Angus Houston AC AFC (Ret'd)
ACTState RecipientAustralian of the Year2012
Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston is a towering figure in Australian public life. In 2001 he was appointed Chief of Air Force and four years later was promoted to the pinnacle of the military hierarchy, Chief of the Defence Force. Until his retirement in 2011, Angus inspired those under his command with his unswerving diligence, honesty and integrity – the phrase ‘an officer and a gentleman’ is synonymous with Angus Houston. At 21, he migrated to Australia from Scotland, joining the Royal Australian Air Force in 1970. Ten years later, as a helicopter pilot, Angus won the Air Force Cross for winching three shipwrecked sailors from wild seas off the NSW coast. As Chief of the Defence Force, he oversaw Australia’s challenging military operations in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. The tragic realities of war were part of his life. It was he who fronted the media whenever an Australian fatality occured. His sincerity and humanity were always evident. His legacy includes improved control and command systems, a better understanding of service men and women suffering mental illness and the rehabilitation of ADF casualties for them to continue serving in the defence force.