Wagga Wagga floods 2012
Originally published in Army News.
Some of the newest soldiers marched off Kapooka parade ground and into Wagga to provide emergency relief assistance.
After 83 days of intensive training, Army Recruit Training Centre (ARTC) Kapooka’s 56 newest graduates could have been forgiven for thinking they’d have at least a couple of days of breathing space.
Instead, one day after marching off the parade ground, the members of 33rd Platoon found themselves in the middle of emergency response duties as the flood waters began to rise in the New South Wales Riverina.
ARTC Commandant Colonel David Hay said it was a fantastic way for the Army’s newest soldiers to begin their careers.
“Literally one day off course and they found themselves filling sandbags and helping to evacuate residents from the North Wagga Wagga area,” Colonel Hay said.
“I was extremely proud of the way in which the soldiers conducted themselves and also in the commitment they gave to help the local community.
“Through their actions, our newest soldiers were able to demonstrate to the Riverina that Kapooka is a proud resident of Wagga Wagga and that our people are very much part of the region too.
“I can’t think of a better way to start a career in the Army than that.”
Another unit which was quick to swing into action was 1st Recruit Training Battalion (1 RTB), which formed the majority of the Army Defence Aid to the Civil Community (DACC) contingent.
Commanding Officer of 1 RTB Lieutenant Colonel Steve D’Arcy said about 140 staff and recruits formed the DACC headquarters and conducted tasks such as sandbag filling, evacuation assistance and flood levee reinforcement.
“We formed and responded to the initial crisis, stood up a DACC headquarters in very quick order and demonstrated significant flexibility in moving from our core training mission to providing support to the community,” he said.
“I’m very proud of the efforts of all of those in the battalion who looked out for each other and the community they live in.
“It was a great honour to meet the Prime Minister when she visited the region and troops really appreciated her thanks and words of encouragement.”
Recruit instructor Corpoal Glen Lawrence said his 44th Platoon recruits were very keen and highly motivated to lend a hand.
“They were jumping out of their skins to get into it,” he said.
“They were all hooking in pretty well because they wanted to out perform the RAAF team they’d just relieved.
“By the end of their shift they filled 30 pallets of 40 sandbags.”
Corporal Lawrence said he gave a lesson on sandbagging before work started.
“I explained to them about headers and stretchers, and weak points, so the blokes would get some training value out of it,” he said.
“The SES put on a barbecue but the boys were that motivated they didn’t want to stop.”