1 August 2014
Private Jordan Aldridge prepares to take aim during Exercise Hamel, the Australian Army’s annual warfighting exercise which runs from 7 July to 1 August.
Becoming a soldier was Private (PTE) Jordan Aldridge’s childhood dream come true but he never thought that it would entail dealing with a pack of dingoes, lizards and spiders.
A Wellingtonian, PTE Aldridge is one of 260 New Zealand troops training alongside 4600 Australian soldiers in a warfighting exercise in Townsville in Northern Queensland, and has been living in the bush over the past three weeks.
“The Australians are very friendly and I’ve enjoyed working with them,” said the former student of Hutt International Boys’ School. “We ‘fight’ alongside them as part of Exercise Hamel and we learn from each other.”
“The Australian bush is unique. It is cold at night and very hot and dry during the day and of course, there are lizards, snakes, spiders and dingoes to contend with.”
PTE Aldridge is one of the New Zealand riflemen assigned to maintain the line of defence for the Blue Force, the “good guys” in Exercise Hamel. A typical day for him starts before sunrise and sometimes ends at midnight.
“I am assigned to go to the frontline with a machine gunner on an armoured personnel carrier to maintain the line of defence,” he explained.
Hamel is the Australian Army’s annual foundation warfighting exercise and runs from 7 July to 1 August. It is PTE Aldridge’s first overseas deployment and he hopes to be deployed to a combat operation someday.
“I joined the Army in 2012 because I wanted to be a soldier since I was a kid. It’s certainly not like it looks in the movies but I enjoy it and would recommend it as a career.”
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