FOR one former Camden Haven High School student ANZAC Day 2016 was especially significant. It was his first as a soldier of the Australian Army on deployment in Iraq.
Signaller Beau Roelandts, 26, grew up in the Camden Haven attending Harrington Public School, Kendall Public school and Camden Haven High.
His grandmother Elvie Ausburn is a longtime member of the Harrington Bowling Club RSL Ladies Auxiliary.
Beau is in the middle of a nine-month deployment in Iraq, part of Task Group Taji, a combined Australian and New Zealand military training force located at Taji, 30km north west of Bagdad.
“My responsibility is to be the link between men on the ground and headquarters. I work with soldiers to train them to use the signalling equipment and we man the radios,”Beau said on a phone call to the Camden Haven Courier.
“I live in a coalition compound and work with Americans.
“In my downtime I go to the gym and stay fit and healthy, play sports with the others in the compound. There’s a pretty healthy rivalry between the Australians and New Zealanders here. It breaks my heart to say that the New
Zealanders are winning our pointscore. We play footy, volleyball and things. They’re pretty competitive in everything, but we go down swinging.”
Prior to joining the army three years ago, Beau was the manager of a McDonalds store.
“It was an office job and I really wanted to work outside and be challenged, so I joined the Australian Army.
“It’s a great life. I get to hang out with mates who have been my colleagues right through training and it has given me the opportunity to travel to different places in Australia and overseas.
“It’s an enjoyable, stable career. I have options to transfer to other defence forces, like the Navy or Airforce if I want to. You have any career pathway you can imagine.
“I don’t think too much about the negatives. I guess being away from my family and friends, especially in this environment is a downside. But it’s give and take.
“Initially my family was worried [about the danger of the job] but I’ve reassured them a fair bit. It feels pretty homey here, apart from the fact that there are no trees.”
Beau’s mother, Heidi Groves, said the quality of training and Beau’s confidence reassures her and the rest of the family including stepfather Mark Groves, sister Cheyenne and Beau’s fiancé Jessica Coleman.
“It’s peace of mind for me that he’s in a noncombat role, but he has always wanted to be able to use his training,” Heidi said.
“He wanted to be deployed to fully use all his skills. I’m happy for him. He and his colleagues are so well-trained, I feel confident, they feel confident and contented.
“He said on his march-out that he had the best training under the best leaders and I felt reassured that he is as prepared as he can be for his job. I’m proud of what he has achieved in life.”
Task Group Taji has been deployed to Iraq to support an international effort to train and build the capacity of the regular Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).
TG Taji’s mission is a training mission and as such the ADF and NZDF troops are operating in a non-combat role.
The Iraqi Security Forces continue to be trained by Task Group Taji personnel from Australia and New Zealand at the Taji Military Complex in Iraq as part of the broader international Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission.
The training includes weapon handling, building clearances and obstacle breaching techniques; as well as training in the Tactics, Techniques and Procedures for squad through to company-level operations to use in their fight against Daesh.
Task Group Taji’s BPC contribution is part of Australia’s broader Defence contribution to Iraq, Operation OKRA, which includes a Special Operations Task Group and an Air Task Group.
Beau is due back home in August.
“I get back to Laurieton when I can. There will definitely be a trip there when I’m back,” he said.
“I love doing the bush track up the mountain. I’ve got a postcard of the view from the top on my bedroom wall here.
“I keep up with what’s happening at home. Each time I get a care package from home there is a copy of the Courier in it.
“I’m looking forward to coming home to my fiancé, Jessica, in Brisbane. She’s just joined the Army too. There will be postings apart in the future, but we both understand that service life comes first.”