Tuesday 19 May, 2020
Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Corporal Jo Uncles is experiencing lockdown in a different way to the rest of New Zealand, as part of the New Zealand Defence Force contingent in the Sinai, Egypt.
Normally based at RNZAF Base Ohakea where she is a Logistics Specialist, CPL Uncles is a Passport Clerk for the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), which is an international peacekeeping force overseeing the terms of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
Thanks to an early introduction of lockdown procedures and isolation of the camps on 10 March, there have been no cases of COVID-19 within the MFO and life has been able to continue relatively normally. Work carries on for the Kiwis, and has kept CPL Uncles busy.
“Although we have no incoming or outgoing contingents requiring ID and Visa documentation, a lot of personnel who are unable to go home due to border restrictions are requiring renewals to their official documentation.”
CPL Uncles came from a military background and joined the RNZAF at the age of 45.
“My parents and most of my siblings all spent time in the military. I found myself in a job which I was not particularly happy in. I decided to try for the military and have never regretted my decision.”
Having previously deployed for six weeks to Antarctica, CPL Uncles has been in the Sinai for six months. NZDF personnel normally rotate out of missions every six to 12 months, depending on the nature of the deployment. Because of border closures, travel restrictions and other measures imposed to restrict the spread of COVID-19, the Kiwis in the Sinai are waiting to hear when they’ll be able to return to New Zealand.
“I’m glad that the NZDF gave me this opportunity to deploy, there are not many grandmothers who would be presented with such a chance. I have really enjoyed the deployment but I do miss my family and we appreciate all the work everyone is putting in to try and get us home as soon as possible.”