Our People in WAHenry Hatch, Ben Wydra and Jarrod Lucas - Kalgoorie Men Help Keep the Peace
Three soldiers from Kalgoorlie-Boulder have landed in the Solomon Islands as part of an international assistance mission.
Sergeant Henry Hatch, along with reservists Private Ben Wydra and Private Jarrod Lucas, were among a large Australian Army contingent to arrive at Guadalcanal in April.
Their arrival, via RAAF C-130 Hercules transports, signalled the beginning of a four-month deployment in the Solomon Islands as part of Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), also known as Operation Anode.
RAMSI’s military contingent comprises soldiers drawn from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Tonga referred to as Combined Task Force 635, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Paul Landford.
Combined Task Force 635’s mission is to support to the RAMSI Participating Police Force drawn from fifteen Pacific countries.
The soldiers volunteered for the mission early last year and have undergone rigorous pre-deployment training, which began in early-January 2011.
The training has included language lessons on Solomon Islands Pidgin, weapons qualifications and Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET).
Sergeant Hatch is by far the most experienced of the Goldfields trio after enlisting as a reservist in 1995 before taking on a full-time role as the platoon sergeant at Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s Army Reserve depot in 2008.
A father-of-two, Sergeant Hatch has previously deployed to Malaysia.
In contrast, this is the first overseas posting for Privates Wydra and Lucas, who enlisted in 2008 and 2007 respectively.
Private Wydra is working as a rifleman within an Australian infantry section, while Private Lucas was one of three Australians chosen to work alongside Tonga Defence Services personnel as their radio operator.
It is a far cry from their day jobs. Private Wydra is employed as a leading hand at BHP Billiton’s Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter and Private Lucas as a reporter for the Kalgoorlie Miner.
The local trio are the latest in a long line of Goldfields soldiers from 11th Platoon, Delta Company of 16th Battalion, Royal West Australia Regiment, who have served overseas.
Others deployed to the Solomon Islands in recent years include Lance Corporal Dean Collins, Lance Corporal Rhett Cumming, Private Matthew Morgan, Private Rick Grzyb, Private Sean Hawkins and Private Michael Toy, just to name a few.
The soldiers will be based on the northern side of Guadalcanal within close proximity of Henderson Airfield and Alligator Creek, which were the sites of two major battles during World War II.
The Battle of Guadalcanal, fought between August 7, 1942, and February 9, 1943, was launched a few months after the 1942 Kokoda campaign and was recently the centrepiece of the TV series, The Pacific.
It was the second major offensive by Allied forces against Japan, with more than 7,000 US forces and 31,000 Japanese killed in action.