Our People in SAJames Arber - Booroowa Son On Historic Deployment To Afghanistan
Army Gunner James Arber has been away from home for more than a year now on the final deployment of Australian Artillery’s “Tiger” troop in support of the British Task Force in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Born and bred in Booroowa, James, 26, is following the family military tradition and joined the Army in 2007.
James’ grandmother, Elma, served as a midwife in the Army and still lives in Booroowa. James’ grandfather served as a Gunner in Bougainville, and his great-grandfather served with the Light Horsemen in Gallipoli as an interpreter.
Usually based in Brisbane these days, James was selected to be part of the unique Australian gun detachment supporting the UK Task Force. The gunners went to the United Kingdom for six months to train with the British 7th Parachute Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery in Colchester, and deployed to Afghanistan in September 2010.
The days are spent conducting fire missions in support of ground-troops, maintaining the weapons, doing sentry duty and participating in team sports and exercise.
The living conditions are tough — there’s no running water and no facilities. The soldiers wash their clothes by hand and every few days have three bottles of water for a wash.
James describes the experience of deploying in an artillery role as a fulfilment of a goal since joining the Royal Australian Artillery.
“This is the last time that Australian gunners will deploy on OP Herrick to fire guns in a war zone to support our allies,” said James. “We have trod a long path of training and shared some great experiences to get here, and are all proud to be doing our job on operations and representing our country.”
It has been a long separation from James’s family back home. He is looking forward to seeing his partner, Rebecca, and their one-year-old son, Dean, who was only a few months old when James left for his training in the UK.“It has been hard on everyone being away this long, but I love them very much and will see them soon.”