Raymond Doyle will not be among the Dawn Service crowd at Gympie’s Cenotaph this year because he will be busy at work – in Afghanistan.
Now Lance Corporal (LCPL) Doyle, 52, the Australian Army Cargo Specialist is deployed to Operation SLIPPER in Afghanistan with Force Support Unit -9 as part of the logistics element at Camp Baker, Kandahar.
He is one of approximately 400 Australian personnel who remain deployed to Afghanistan playing their part in the train, advise and assist mission for the Afghan National Security Forces.
The jovial former Gympie farmhand, labourer and bakery worker is revelling in his role in the land-locked nation but is quick to point out that it is still a dangerous place to work.
“There are still a lot of us here doing our job and we are regularly practising rocket attack drills and are still required to carry our weapons,” he said.
“This is my first warlike operation and it’s going to be a real honour to be here in Afghanistan for the Anzac Day Dawn Service.
“I am pretty confident it’s going to be a bit warmer here at dawn than it will be at the Memorial Gates in Mary Street!
LCPL Doyle joined the Army a little later than most after establishing his life in Gympie with Prongers as a window assembler, Gympie Hot Bread Kitchen as a chef’s assistant and also working as a farmhand for David Anderson’s Dairy Farm at Mooloo.
The son of Raymond and Gwendolene James initially trained as a chef before transferring over to the “Termites” (Army Cargo Specialist) where he prepares cargo for transport by sea, air and land.
This is his second overseas deployment after spending six months in Timor Leste in 2007 but despite his extraordinary experiences, family remains close to his heart.
“Meeting my wife Naomi and having my children changed my life. I really miss my son Brenton - who is also in the Army – his lovely wife Emma and of course my grandson Aiden who is two years old.
“I won’t leave out my first daughter Olivia who gave us a beautiful grand daughter Lilly, who turns four on 24 April and lastly Sarah who loves being with her mother and lives at home in Townsville where I am posted.
“Support is a big thing and I’d like to thank extended family; Val – she will be remembered always; Keith Payne a terrific father figure and Helen, a special woman in our life.
“When I get back it’ll be time to put my feet up and catch up with all my family members who hold a very special place in my heart.
“It’ll also be refreshing to shower without thongs on, eat with steel cutlery, sleep in my own bed and walk around in a building with windows – we are in reinforced accommodation here to resist incoming rounds.”
Following the completion of Australia’s mission in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province last year, Australia’s efforts have shifted to a nationally-orientated mission throughout 2014, providing training and advisory support to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
Around 400 ADF personnel will continue to work in Afghanistan in 2014 through training and advising the ANSF in both Kabul and Kandahar.