Our boys answer Timors call
FORMER Warwick neighbours Luke Wilson, Simon Bathersby Warren Farmer and Grant Prendergast now have another thing in common. They are all soldiering in East Timor.
Luke and Simon are based at the main forward operating base, while Grant and Warren have roles at the headquarters in the capital, Dili.
The International Stabilisation Force includes 400 diggers and 75 New Zealand troops, operating at the invitation of the government of East Timor to provide a secure environment for the ongoing development of the country.
“It’s the diversity in the job over here that’s great,” said Grant, a captain.
“One day you’re talking to the president and next day speaking with a nun at an orphanage.
“I’m really enjoying working with local people,” added Simon, a lance corporal in the Transport Corps.
“It’s good to see how grateful the kids are and how they appreciate it.”
This is Luke and Simon’s first overseas operation with the Defence Force, on six-month stints that will contribute to financial security and career satisfaction.
“I’m an undercover recruiter for defence,” Ordnance Corporal Luke Wilson joked.
“After high school in Warwick, I’m still in touch with a couple of my mates. I’m always trying to persuade them to join because it’s something away from the ordinary and it keeps you physically fit and healthy.”
Simon echoed his sentiment.
“I joined the Army because I wanted to do something that offered unique challenges and allowed me to do my part in protecting our country,” he said.
Grant and Warren have served in East Timor and have both noticed dramatic improvements since previous deployments.
“When we fly over the cities and rural areas in the Black Hawks, every house has a roof,” said Grant, who liaises between the International Force and the East Timorese Police Force.
“It’s amazing to see the changes in the past few years and I’m proud I was a part of that.”
Infantry Officer Warren, now a major, still has his home-base in Warwick and the other three get back as much as possible.
“The Warwick community has been supportive of people deployed overseas both here in East Timor and Afghanistan,” Warren said.
“If, like me, you grew up in a rural area and you want to expand your horizons and develop a few life skills, it will stand you in good stead when you come back,” said Warren, a veteran with 30 years in uniform.
Warwick’s finest are due to return to Australia in October, and a shared goal is to deploy to the Middle East later in their careers ... but before then, they will definitely be celebrating at the Warwick Rodeo and the Boxing Day races.