The Australian Government has recently responded to a request from the Western Australian government for the provision of Defence support to bushfire fighting efforts in the southwest of WA.
Soldiers from the Australian Army’s 13 Brigade were deployed to Manjimup to establish temporary accommodation for fire-fighters and possible evacuees from the surrounding area that were threatened by the fire danger.
Corporal Justin May from Bassendean, is a soldier from 10 Transport Company at the Karrakatta Barracks and was one of the soldiers deployed.
“It's rewarding to be able to help the communities in the south west, especially the fire-fighters who are doing a great job fighting the fires in the Northcliffe area,” Justin said.
“Being able to help them do their job is a great experience.
“All the guys and girls from 13 Brigade have been putting in the hard yards; it’s been a fantastic opportunity being able to work with them to get our work done in support of the fire-fighting efforts.”
Justin has spent five and a half years in the Army, but was a retail salesman for a long time before taking on a full-time role in the military.
“I was an Army reservist when I was younger, I enjoy it back then, so I thought I'd give it a go in a full time capacity,” he said.
“I'm so glad that I have.”
The 37 years old was born in Melbourne but moved to Perth with family when he was just seven, living in Sorrento and attending St Marks Community School in Hillarys.
His father was a veteran of the Vietnam War, which was a major influence in Justin’s desire to have a military career, but it was his wife Rhiannon who actually suggested he take on a full-time role in the Army.
“My wife said to me that I had really enjoyed being in the Reserves, so why don't I look at joining again,” Justin said.
“I thought I was a bit too old, but I really wanted to give it a shot, and here I am, back in uniform.
“My wife is very supportive, she has a good understanding of the role and the work I do.”
Justin and his wife have three children, a nine, seven and two-year old.
“They're actually excited that I'm back in uniform and they don't mind moving around, they look at it as a new adventure when we move,” he said.
A cargo specialist, Justin and has spent a fair bit of time with the Amphibious Beach Team and worked outside of the Army with the Royal Australian Navy.
This association lead to a deployment to East Timor to return military equipment back to Australia in 2012.
Approximately 40 Army soldiers from the Brigade’s Irwin Barracks at Karrakatta,;travelled in 10 trucks to transport and construct the tent accommodation in the township of Manjimup.
The soldiers erected 20 tents and camp stretchers and provided tables, chairs and lighting to support up to 200 temporary occupants.