Western Australian Flight Lieutenant Paul Rattigan will need to keep clear of Santa’s sleigh this Christmas as he navigates his Royal Australian Air Force AP3-3C Orion aircraft through the skies of northern Australia.
This is the first Christmas away from home for the former Lesmurdie Senior High School student since joining the Australian Defence Force in 2004.
He is currently one of about 500 personnel deployed this Christmas on Operation Resolute, the ADF’s contribution to Australia’s whole of government border security effort.
These include Navy, Army and Air Force personnel conducting air, land and sea surveillance and response for approximately 10 per cent of the world’s surface, 365 days-a-year.
Up to three Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft including maintenance and air crew provide surveillance of Australia’s approaches.
Paul, 28, has experienced a number of highlights since joining the Defence Force and lists his deployment on Operation Slipper in Afghanistan and a successful search and rescue in the Solomon Islands as two of the most significant.
To add to the long list of reasons why Paul is looking forward to returning home, his wife Vanessa recently gave birth to their first child, Zoe, who is now three months old.
Paul said he is grateful for the support of his wife and said she is very proud of his role in the ADF.
“We’re high school sweethearts and she is such a wonderful support, it’s going to be hard to be away from her and Zoe. I’ll certainly miss them but it gives me a lot to look forward to when I get home.”
When asked how he’ll celebrate Christmas on operations this year FLTLT Rattigan said, “we’ll be wearing Christmas hats on the aircraft”.
Since his enlistment in the RAAF, Paul has earned the Australian Defence Medal, Australian Active Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and Operational Service Medal.