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Australia Commemorates End of Operation Slipper

2015 03 20 Patrick Lockyer

Nation-wide commemorations took place in each state to mark the end of Operation SLIPPER.

Among DEFGLIS members taking part was Army Officer Cadet Patrick Lockyer, who deployed on Operation SLIPPER shortly after joining the Defence Force as a Private when he was 20 years old.

Reflecting on the experience, Lockyer said that deploying on operations was one of the things that he had always wanted to do when he joined the Defence Force.

"Getting the opportunity to deploy so early in my career was an honour and I learned so much about myself, my trade and working with others," said Lockyer

"I don't know I would have gotten those skills and experiences in another situation."

Lockyer deployed on Operation Slipper to the Middle East Area of Operations in 2010 for eight months and then again in 2012 for four months as a Storeman. He performed an ammunition and logistics role, where he was responsible for managing and manoeuvring holdings of ammunition and explosive ordinance for deployed forces.

"It was difficult at times but the shared experience and the sense of a common goal help you get through things, even on those days where you might get in each others way," he said.

Lockyer said that his sexual orientation was not an issue for him on operations and said that his entire chain of command was friendly and accepting towards him even though they had never met prior to the deployment. He attributes this to the professionalism of the Australian Defence Force and the strong sense of a purpose that binds teams together to deliver required military effects during operations.

The weekend commemoration was particularly important for Lockyer as he remembered the sacrifice of a close colleague.

"A colleague of mine who died during my first deployment - Lance Corporal Andrew Jones was shot dead in Patrol Base Mashal. We were all very close to him," he said.

“The parade was an opportunity to remember everyone who was lost during the course of the Operation.”

During the solemn commemoration, former Defence Minister and Director of the Australian War Memorial Dr Brendan Nelson read out the names of the 41 Australians who made the ultimate sacrifice during the operation.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott addressed the returning veterans and told them that the world was safer thanks to their efforts.

"Today, we remember everyone who wore our uniform and served in our name," said Abbott.

"You did your duty. You are worthy heirs to the ANZAC legacy."

The end of 2014 marked the conclusion of Operation SLIPPER, Australia’s military contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan, and the International Coalition against Terrorism (ICAT) mission across Afghanistan and the Middle East which commenced in October 2001.

Since Australia commenced deployments to Afghanistan, over 33,000 Australian Defence Force personnel, Australian Public Service employees and Australian Federal Police have deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations as part of the operation.

Image: Officer Cadet Patrick Lockyer - currently studying at the Australian Defence Force Academy

Image by Department of Defence

2016 05 10 ReflectionsThumb


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