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Soldiers prepare for the walk of a lifetime

Three soldiers wounded in action are in the running for a race to the South Pole to be held in December. The 2013 Walking With The Wounded expedition will comprise of teams of service personnel from Australia, Canada, the US and the UK, all with physical or cognitive wounds sustained during active service.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Scott Warby, Corporal Seamus Donaghue and Private Heath Jamieson were the lucky three selected from a list of applicants keen to represent Australia. 

Private Jamieson, who sustained a gunshot wound in Afghanistan, said the expedition was a great opportunity to raise awareness. 

“It’s an avenue for the community to support wounded soldiers through supporting charities like Soldier On,” he said. 

“We’re lucky to be at a stage of recovery to be able to take part in this expedition.” 

The three soldiers have incorporated training for the expedition into their rehabilitation programs to prepare for their epic Antarctic journey. 

In March, the trio will travel to Iceland where they will undergo cold weather training and meet the other participants. 

Warrant Officer Class 2 Warby, who also suffered a gunshot to the leg in Afghanistan, said they would have a better idea of what to expect on their expedition when they arrived in Iceland. 

“Not many of us spend much time skiing due to the lack of snow in Australia,” he said. 

“Once we get there we’ll have a better idea of what to expect at the South Pole.” 

Some of the training to date has included marching and weight carrying, as well as dragging large tyres behind them to replicate the sleds they will be required to pull during the trek. Each member of the team will have to pull their own equipment behind them on a sled, which could weigh up to 100kg. The equipment will include important items for sleeping, survival, cold weather clothing, food and water. 

After a series of training camps and personal preparation, two of the soldiers will be selected by Walking With The Wounded to join two Canadian soldiers in the Commonwealth team, with the third a reserve in case of injury or illness. In December the team will face the four-week trek across the Antarctic, walking up to 40km a day in minus 45 degree temperatures. 

Private Jamieson said it was great to be back working in a small-team environment. 

“You go from working in close teams and then [once injured] into the recovery and rehabilitation system,” he said. 

“It’s great to have that mental and physical challenge in a team environment again.” 

The trio will need to draw on each other’s strengths to overcome the grueling challenge of Iceland and the Antarctic in what is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Corporal Donaghue said he hoped being part of the expedition would inspire other wounded members and show them anything was possible. 

“You can go out and do anything,” he said. 

“There is more than just rehabilitation and there is always something to look forward to after recovery.” 

Corporal Donaghue added it was important to get public support behind the trek. 

“Getting that awareness of wounded soldiers out there and showing others in similar circumstances to us that anything is possible, is very important.” 

Walking With The Wounded is supported by Soldier On and charities from each participating nation.

Last updated
19 December 2016
Army: Courage. Initiative. Respect. Teamwork.
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