A young female soldier from Enoggera has made it home in time for Christmas after spending the past month in the Philippines helping with a disaster relief operation.
Army Signaller Cendrine Robert-Spring has been part of Operation Philippines Assist, which was the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) response to the devastating effects of Tropical Cyclone Haiyan.
Cendrine arrived back in Australia aboard the Navy transport ship HMAS Tobruk on December 17.
“After such a long time away from home I am very happy that I am home in time for Christmas,” she said.
Cendrine, who is a single mum, said she greatly enjoyed the challenge of helping the victims of the deadly cyclone, but really missed her son, Baley, aged 5.
“While I was away I managed to send him a few cards and make a few phone calls, but being home for Christmas is an extra special treat,” she said.
Cendrine is posted to the 1 Signals Regiment, and her role during the disaster relief operation was to operate radios as part of the ADF’s communications network based at Ormoc airport.
Cendrine, who is originally from France, said she has many special memories of the humanitarian assistance operation to tell her family over Christmas dinner.
She said her deployment was a bit of a challenge but personally fulfilling.
“It was really good to be able to help the typhoon victims in some way, because they have suffered so much,” she said.
Between November 28 and December 15, Australian Army engineers, with assistance from Navy sailors and in coordination with Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade staff, cleaned-up and repaired 16 schools that were damaged by the typhoon.
Local officials said the efforts of the ADF allowed about 15,500 students to return to classes, once schools re-opened on 02 December.
Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Ash Power, said the return of HMAS Tobruk marked the drawdown of Australia’s response to the Philippine Government's request for assistance.
“This cyclone devastated parts of the Philippines and our people have contributed directly to assist their recovery and get their lives back to normal,” he said.
“I was also impressed with the work of the Army Recovery Support Force, from rebuilding schools and facilities, to clearing areas of debris.
“These soldiers have enabled children to return to a daily routine and allowed communities to begin rebuilding their lives.”
Cendrine has come along way since she arrived in Australia in 2003.
She joined the Army in 2007 and has enjoyed the challenge and rewards of service life.
“I joined the Army for a secure job and the physical fitness,” she said.
“The Defence force is also the perfect job for a single mum because it offers me a rewarding career.”