16 Jan 2008

In late 2007 I deployed with the 3rd Reconstruction Task Force to Afghanistan. While conducting a route clearance task on 2 November I was seriously injured when an Improvised Explosive Device I was rendering safe detonated. While my physical injuries include the loss of my lower right arm and right eye they have not dampened my passion for soldiering. Iím a proud Australian Digger and it is through mateship and a larrikin sense of humour that I plan to recover from my injuries. I also look forward to a well-earned stubby with my mates when they return.

The media coverage of this incident has been extensive, but I believe my training and equipment saved my life. Despite being treated like a hero since returning, it was the actions of my mates that deserve recognition. It was the heroic deeds of the Corporal who immediately took control of the incident site and directed first aid, the three diggers who provided immediate first aid and the Sergeant who coordinated security and medical evacuation which saved my life.

From day one the support that my family and I have received has been excellent. I would like to thank the medical staff who provided me with first-class care in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Germany. Thanks also to the tireless efforts of ‘Anna’ an Australian nurse at a hospital in Kuwait who made sure that the first voice I heard was an Australian one when I woke up.

In particular I would like to acknowledge the work of the Defence Community Organisation (DCO) and the 3rd Reconstruction Task Force, who arranged for my wife, Katri, and a few of my best mates to be with me in Germany. Having my wife by my side while DCO looked after my family in Australia has assisted greatly with my recovery.

Lastly I would like to thank the members of the Australian and international community who have supported me and continue to support our soldiers on operations. Of particular note is the public support of the people here in Townsville. Knowing that you have the support of your nation as you undertake dangerous missions in a country where it is very difficult to identify your enemy is extremely important.

The way ahead for me is forward and the best way to do that is as a Combat Engineer. I have had some bad times and I know there will be plenty more but its best I get through these with my family and the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment, our second family.