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Robert Rose - Townsville

A former star player for the Redbacks Soccer Club is in the Philippines kicking goals with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in a disaster relief operation called Operation PHILIPPINES ASSIST.

Robert Rose is a soldier in the Townsville-based 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment that is assisting with repairing the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

Robert arrived in the Philippines on November 26 after a voyage from Australia onboard the warship HMAS Tobruk.

Robert is one of 500 ADF personnel who have commenced a range of tasks including road clearing and quick impact tasks such as debris clean-up in public areas.

Robert operates a Caterpillar 434 front-end loader and backhoe and is enjoying working as part of the relief effort.

Robert’s first task was to skilfully reverse his machine out of the stern of the heavy-lift ship HMAS Tobruk and onto an Army landing craft, where it was ferried ashore to a beach near Ormoc, on Leyte Island.

“This machine will do what it has to do and handle everything we throw at it,” he said.

The initial priority for Robert and the other ADF members is to help clean up local schools in the Ormoc area as requested by Philippines authorities.

Robert and other ADF Engineers commenced debris removal work at the Cogon Central school in Ormoc on 28 November.

The humanitarian and disaster relief mission marks a welcome return to duty for Robert who was wounded by an Improvised Explosive Device in Afghanistan on February 2, 2011.

“I’ve done five years in the Army and had a deployment to Afghanistan, but this is my first humanitarian assistance operation,” he said.

“I joined the Army for a change from being a carpenter and I’ve had no regrets.”

Following a request for support from the Philippines Government and commitment from the Australian Government to provide assistance, the ADF has established Operation PHILIPPINES ASSIST to support Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.

Operation PHILIPPINES ASSIST comprises Navy elements based on HMAS Tobruk and embarked MRH helicopter; Army elements based on 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment soldiers and equipment, medium landing craft and command and control elements; and Air Force elements including C-130 and C-17 aircraft and support.