Sapper Brendan James, former house captain of Karamea Area School on the West Coast, is one of 35 New Zealand Defence Force engineers who left for the Sinai Peninsula this morning to build a security fence for an international peacekeeping force.
13 January 2017
As a child, Brendan James wished to follow in his father’s footsteps and enlist in the New Zealand Army.
Sapper James, 21, the former house captain of Karamea Area School on the West Coast, achieved his childhood dream two years ago and left this morning for the Sinai Peninsula to help complete a key infrastructure project for an international peacekeeping force.
He is one of 35 engineers from the New Zealand Army’s 2nd Engineer Regiment who will build the security fence around the Multinational Force and Observers’ (MFO) South Camp.
“I had always looked up to soldiers and was always fascinated by the military,” Sapper James said. “One of the main reasons I joined was because of my dad. Hearing about his time in the Army inspired me to join.”
The MFO is an international organisation with peacekeeping responsibilities in the Sinai Peninsula. After operating at North Camp for more than 30 years, the mission’s headquarters and a number of troops from the 12 nations that make up the MFO’s Force moved to South Camp in mid-2016 because of the deteriorating security situation in North Sinai.
The MFO is building new facilities to accommodate the influx into South Camp and requested assistance from New Zealand and other countries with some of the infrastructure projects.
“I’m excited and am looking forward to doing my job overseas. Getting this opportunity will allow me to gain new skills and build on the ones I already have,” Sapper James said.
“Having been selected to go on this deployment after being in the Army for only two years is a massive boost to my confidence and shows that my superiors also have confidence in me.”
Now that he has realised his childhood dream, he hopes to do well in his role and make his family proud.
“Wanting to be the best soldier I can be drives me to try to improve myself and become more proficient in my job,” he said. “I don’t like to fail, so I always try to put my best foot forward and I get a sense of accomplishment from doing my job well.
“I joined the Army because I wanted a varied and exciting career and that is exactly what I have.”
During their six-month deployment, the New Zealand contingent will get to experience Sinai’s cold winter temperatures and its hot and dry weather during summer.
“The heat will take a bit to adjust to but I’m sure we will get through that,” Sapper James said.