This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Operation Solace; a peacekeeping mission which saw 1,500 Australian defence force personnel deployed to Somalia. Their role was part of a United States led, UN sanctioned multinational force to help restore peace and stability to the region following the President’s overthrow and subsequent lawlessness and human rights violations from clan aligned armed militia.
Approximately 900 troops made up the Australian Army’s 1st Battalion Group and earned praise for their work in restoring law and order and bringing humanitarian aid to the people of Somalia. At Aurizon, we are proud to have four of these soldiers who served as part of this Battalion Group, working with us - sharing their skills in leadership, teamwork, courage and respect.
Their roles span our operations and our geographic footprint, Clay McDonald Group Executive of Aurizon’s Bulk business is based in Perth, Andy Jakab Vice President Intermodal is based in Brisbane, Ray Hemmings drives coal trains from our Toowoomba depot and Wayne Prosser, General Manager of Infrastructure Maintenance in our Network business calls Rockhampton home.
While they work in different areas of Aurizon’s business, Clay says three of them were able to get together with many of their other comrades to commemorate this special anniversary.
“Andy, Ray and I travelled to Sydney to attend the Anzac Day Dawn service and then participated in the Anzac Day March as part of an organised reunion for those who were deployed to Somalia. Our March was led by New South Wales Governor, David Hurley AC DSC, who was our Commanding Officer during the campaign.”
“It was unfortunate that Wayne was unable to attend, but we will be sure to share stories with him from the day.”
When Clay was asked what Anzac Day means to him, he reinforced that it was a very special day for him.
“I think about those men and women who served before me, served with me and who still serve today. Ordinary people who often end up achieving extraordinary things because of the culture, teamwork and environment of mutual commitment that exists around them. Yesterday I was able to remember, catch up with and pay my respects to all those people.”
Across Aurizon we are proud of our colleagues who have served in the Australian Defence Force and those who continue to serve in a Reservist capacity. During the day Aaron Clarke provides analytical insights into Aurizon’s fleet of road vehicles through use of telematics systems. On Tuesday nights and one weekend a month, Aaron serves as an infantry soldier in 9 Royal Queensland Regiment based at Enoggera, Brisbane.
Aaron (pictured training with his 9RQR comrades in the middle on the bottom row) said he has been serving as an Army Reservist for four and a half years and his role is primarily focused around providing security and offensive and defensive capabilities in areas of conflict.
“We can also be deployed in a peacekeeping capacity or to provide aid in disaster relief, which is one of the reasons I was inspired to join up. I wanted to give back to our amazing country, to serve and provide aid to the Australian community in times of need or disaster.”
Aaron explains the skills he uses and learns as an Army Reservist are transferable and build on principles Aurizon requires within its diverse workforce.
“The Australian Defence Force trains all its members to be highly efficient members of a much larger team. Notably, the Army focuses on building the core skill of each member in the fields of leadership, decision making, teamwork and professionalism."
Aaron commemorated Anzac Day yesterday by attending 9RQR’s Dawn Service and morning function with his family, and then went in to the city to watch the Parade and enjoy a few games of two-up.
When asked what Anzac Day means to him, Aaron said it was a day of reflection and remembrance.
“To me, Anzac Day is a day to reflect, not only on the brave men and women who answered the call to war during the first and second world wars but all wars that Australia has participated in since its inception. It is a day for Australians and New Zealanders to come together to commemorate those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.”
Aurizon is proud to support all its employees who serve the Australian Defence Force in a reservist capacity. We honour our colleagues who have contributed, and who continue to contribute, to our communities and to the defence and protection of our country.
Top image L-R: Aurizon's Clay McDonald, Andy Jakab and Ray Hemmings march with their 'Operation Solace' comrades at the Sydney Anzac Day Parade.