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Joel Crowe - Christmas Home-Coming

BEING home in time for Christmas after helping with a disaster relief operation in the Philippines is what one former Home Hill High School student is looking forward to most.

Corporal Joel Crowe, 25, is part Operation Philippines Assist, which is the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) response to Typhoon Haiyan.

Joel is an engineer with the Townsville-based 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment, which deployed to Ormoc province on November 28 to clean up and repair the devastation caused by the typhoon.

Joel has been in the Army for seven-years and is due to return to Australia on board a C130J Hercules military aircraft on December 20.

“I can’t wait to get home to see my family and friends,” he said.

Joel has many exciting stories to tell his family and friends over Christmas dinner.

Joel said his team of engineers were involved in removing debris and repairing classrooms at schools around Ormoc City on the island of Leyte.

“We’ve been helping kids get their lives back on track after the devastation and trauma caused by the typhoon,” he said.

“It gives me a sense of accomplishment that we’ve helped people in need during one of the hardest times of their lives.”

Joel said the disaster relief mission was a success.

“The work we’ve done makes me feel proud to be in the Army with great blokes who only want to do good for other people,” he said.

Joel said he joined the Army to pursue adventure, mateship and a chance to travel the world.

“Dad was in the Army from 1984-90 and he told me about Army life so that was a big influence,” he said.

This deployment was Joel’s second disaster relief operation. He was also in involved in Operation Yasi Assist in Northern Queensland in 2011.

The Australian Army engineers and sailors from the Navy’s heavy-lift ship, HMAS Tobruk, cleaned up and repaired 16 schools over the duration of the operation, allowing 15,500 students to return to classes.

Commander of the joint task force Lieutenant Colonel Rod Lang said the Army engineers and HMAS Tobruk’s crew had achieved their mission to help with the Philippines’ recovery.

“Key infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals and power, are gradually being restored which are all key indications the time has come for our military forces to begin to return home,” he said.