Families welcome returning officers

Captain Derek Russell – with his wife Cassie and children Coen, 5, and Tully, 3 – says it is hard leaving his family, particularly as the children grow older.
Captain Derek Russell – with his wife Cassie and children Coen, 5, and Tully, 3 – says it is hard leaving his family, particularly as the children grow older. Claudia Baxter

AFTER a lengthy deployment, members of the FSU-4 unit officially marked the end of their overseas service surrounded by family and friends at RAAF Base Amberley on Saturday.

Officers undertook an eight-month deployment in the Middle East.

While there, the unit provided logistic, life and health support to Australian Defence Force operations in Afghanistan and the Gulf region of the Middle East area of operations, assisting more than 2350 ADF personnel.

Officer Commanding Force Support Team Gulf States Captain Derek Russell said the hardest part of the deployment had been leaving behind his wife Cassie and their children - five-year-old Coen and three-year-old Tully.

The 34-year-old previously served stints in East Timor and Indonesia, but said as his children grew older it became more difficult to leave them behind.

"They are at an age where they have started to realise when dad is away," Capt. Russell said.

"But they understand and my wife understands."

The Welcome Home Parade provided an opportunity for all personnel deployed with FSU-4 to reunite and formally recognise the achievements of the unit.

On the day, a memorial service was also held to remember Lance Corporal Andrew Jones

The 25-year-old, from the ninth Force Support Battalion at Amberley, had been serving as an army cook at a patrol base in Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan, when he was attacked by an Afghan soldier during guard duties.

"We are under no illusion that we will all come back," Capt. Russell said.

"Generally speaking, our unit is less likely to suffer causalities.

"When it occurs it is hard to be prepared for the occasion emotionally, but the guys over there are a crack team.

"They are all professional."

During the parade, Reviewing Officer Major General Rick Burr paid tribute to the service of the officers and the sacrifices they and their families had made.

"Today was a very special day," he said.

"It was a day for welcoming home, reflecting on deployment and remembering achievements.

"The day brings closure to deployment."

Predominantly drawn from 9 Force Support Battalion in Amberley, FSU-4 comprises close to 190 personnel from all three services across Australia.

Topics:  australian defence force families middle east parade raaf base amberley

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