7 August 2014
Lance Corporal Ben Dowdall outside the Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin Officers’ Mess where he is preparing meals for the multi-national forces participating on Exercise Pitch Black 2014.
Invercargill man Lance Corporal (LCPL) Ben Dowdall is one of eight NZ Army chefs hard at work preparing meals in a kitchen at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Darwin, for a multi-national force exercising in the heat of an Australian Northern Territory winter.
LCPL Dowdall, a Southern Institute of Technology graduate, is a soldier in the Burnham based 3rd Combat Service Support Battalion and is in Darwin participating in Exercise Pitch Black 2014, which is the RAAF’s largest multi-national combat air training exercise of the year.
The three-week exercise aims to foster multi-national partnerships and cooperation and has brought military forces from six nations to Australia’s Northern Territory. The exercise will involve a combination of day and night flying and provides the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) with an opportunity to practise deployment and integration of ground support personnel into coalition environments.
Exercise Pitch Black 2014 is LCPL Dowdall’s first overseas exercise with the NZDF, his first time working in a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) led contingent and his first time working with the RAAF. He says that the opportunity to participate in Exercise Pitch Black 2014 has reinforced for him the benefits of a career as a chef in the Army and the quality of the training he has received so far.
“Life in the Army is never boring. One week I could be prepping and cooking a buffet for a function, the next week I’ll be out in the field practising my soldier skills and firing a machine gun from one of our Pinzgauers.
“Our training is world class. I’ve had the opportunity to complete a number of City and Guilds catering qualifications since I joined and those qualifications combined with the Army’s trade courses and leadership training have enabled me to step into the kitchens here and perform to a high standard. I am looking forward to the opportunity to develop my skills with seafood preparation during this exercise. The Australians work with it a lot more than we do,” said LCPL Dowdall.
LCPL Dowdall will return to his Burnham base - and his partner and two year old daughter - in late August.
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