After four months of service in the Solomon Islands, members of the 5th Brigade (New South Wales) have begun their journey home to Australia today.
Designated Rotation 21, the 110 strong Reservist contingent has been on deployment in the Solomon Islands since late March in support of Operation ANODE, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to the Australian led Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
Rotation 21 is replaced by Rotation 22, drawn from the 4th Brigade (Victoria), whose members began arriving in the Solomon Islands in late July. The official handover of duties was formalised at a welcome parade on 28 July at RAMSI Headquarters where Tongan Defence Service soldiers performed a “Challenge Song” to welcome the new Reservist contingent.
“The Combined Task Force (CTF 635) consists of four troop contributing nations and each of these nations brings its own cultural diversity to the CTF which makes it such a useful and diverse organisation,” said Lieutenant Colonel David Thompson, Commanding Officer CTF 635.
“We have people from Papua New Guinea, Tonga, New Zealand and Australia and we always try and include that cultural diversity in any type of activity we do. Incorporating a traditional Tongan greeting into the welcome parade is a fantastic chance for the new rotation to see this cultural diversity first hand and give them a sense of what they are moving into.”
|Signaler Pamela Burgess receives her Australian Service Medal (ASM) from Captain Helen Williams on parade in the Solomon Islands.
Source: Australian Department of Defence
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Members of outgoing Rotation 21 were later formally recognised for their service at a medal ceremony held at RAMSI Headquarters on 2 August.
“This has been an immensely rewarding experience,” said Major Brian Willsher, Headquarters 5th Brigade. “We are all looking forward to going home and seeing our friends and family. The Solomon Islands is a fantastic place and we have forged strong connections with the local Solomon Island community and will take back some fond memories of our time here. We have contributed significantly to RAMSI and its‘ mission and we are very proud to be handing the baton to Rotation 22.”
This is the 3rd rotation that Lieutenant Colonel David Thompson has commanded during his tenure as Commander CTF 635 and he admits that the end of each rotation is always an emotional time.
“It is both a sad time, and a glad time. Sad because you work so closely with these people for such a long period of time day in and day out – 12, 14 hour days. You become very close in a very short period of time and the mateship and ethos of the Army really shines,” he said.
“It is also very important to convey to the old rotation how invaluable their work here has been. The Royal Solomon Island Police Force (RSIPF) Commander, the Special Co-coordinator of RAMSI and the Commander of the Participating Police Forces (PPF) have been very congratulatory of Rotation 21’s performance. They have done a fantastic job.”
A welcome home parade will be conducted for the returning members of Rotation 21, 5 Brigade (New South Wales) at 09:30am, Friday, 6 August 2010 at Holsworthy Barracks, Sydney.
Note to editors: More than 30 of the Army Reserve soldiers are from the 1st/19th Royal New South Wales Regiment, which is based in central and southern NSW. The Reserve soldiers come from a diverse range of civilian occupations including police, university students, public servants and school teachers.
More than 30 of the soldiers are from the 4th/3rd Royal New South Wales Regiment, which draws its man-power from Sydney’s west and southern suburbs, as well as the Illawarra region and Canberra. The soldiers come from a diverse range of civilian occupations including police, university students, public servants and school teachers.
More than 30 of the Army Reservists are from the Parramatta-based 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers, which has completed its largest deployment of troops since World War Two. The soldiers come from a diverse range of civilian occupations including police, university students, public servants and school teachers.
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