Surfing the North Shore will not be likely for Noosa’s Drew Charlwood any time soon, because he is a long way away from his hometown with work – in Afghanistan.
Corporal (CPL) Charlwood, 26, son of Glenn and Jenny Charlwood of Noosa, is in Afghanistan as a Cargo Specialist Supervisor for Operation SLIPPER.
The former Tewantin State Primary School and Noosa District High School student said he is revelling in his role at Camp BAKER in the sprawling Kandahar Air Field and also the chance to be deployed for an Anzac Day on operations.
“In Kandahar, I am in charge of the freight distribution centre, all Australian cargo in and out of Afghanistan comes through us,” he said.
“Up until February we were using the contracted Mi26 Helicopter to move equipment around theatre – it could lift up to 20,000kg of cargo and we also work very closely with the Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster and C-130 Hercules for freight back to the Australian base in the United Arab Emirates and then onto Australia and vice versa.
“Working with the biggest heavy lift helicopter in the world has been the highlight of my deployment. ‘Blinky’ has been a real eye opener due to the sheer size but also because of our efforts to move freight around our area of operations quickly and efficiently to support Australian personnel.”
Afghanistan is CPL Charlwood’s fourth deployment, after trips to Timor-Leste in 2008 and 2012-13 and also to Indonesia in 2009 for Operation PADANG ASSIST.
Currently posted to Townsville, where he lives with his partner Chloe Lack, the former Noosa Lions Soccer Club and Noosa Heads Surf Life Saving Club member admits to missing pieces of home when he is away.
“It’s the simple things you miss like hanging out with my mates Brendan, James, Nathan, Kev, my brother Blair and my sister Raechel and all going to the beach for a surf or playing soccer for Noosa.
“When I get back I can’t wait to see my partner Chloe, take a holiday to somewhere remote and take my golden retriever Charlie for a walk.”
Corporal Charlwood has also let his grandfather, Ray Lower, know that he will be attending a dawn service in Kandahar where he will be one of more than 400 Australians across Afghanistan commemorating the 99th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli.
Following the completion of Australia’s mission in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province last year, Australia’s efforts have shifted to a nationally-oriented mission throughout 2014, providing training and advisory support to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
Approximately 1200 Australian Defence Force personnel are deployed throughout the broader Middle East Area of Operations on Operation SLIPPER which includes the maritime security environment, an area of over two million square miles, encompassing the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman.