Home' Army News : February 23rd 2017 Contents February 23, 2017
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Tides of time
10FSB soldiers help Torres Strait community
Cpl Sebastian Beurich
WHILE other units were under-
taking their mandatory training,
one of the crews from 35 Water
Transport Sqn, 10FSB, was starting
out the year on the ocean.
On January 17, the crew of
LCM-8 AB1050 travelled for 65
hours straight to assist the family of
WWII veteran Jerry Stephen trans-
port his remains from Darnley Island
to Stephens Island, in the Torres
Strait, for burial.
The crew, led by Cpl Scott Giles,
had less than two days to take an
LCM-8 from long-term storage and
cyclone-prepared conditions to being
completely seaworthy – no small feat.
“We found out about the task at
around lunchtime on the Monday,
but at that stage we weren’t sure if
the task was going to go ahead,” Cpl
“The task involved massive days
it was straight sailing to Thursday
Island to ensure we met the funeral’s
deadline, followed by 13 hours to
“There were a lot of grey areas –
timings to be announced and points
of contact that weren’t established
until we got to Thursday Island.”
Mr Stephen served in the Citizen
Military Forces from 1942 until 1944,
JERRY Stephen enlisted in
the Citizen Military Forces in
December 1942 and was placed
in the Torres Strait Light Infantry
Bn – the only Indigenous battalion
formed in Australian history.
Mr Stephen was awarded the
1939-45 Star, Defence Medal,
War Medal 1939-45 and Australian
Service Medal 1939-45 for his ser-
vice during the Japanese bombing
campaign in the Torres Strait.
When he returned to Stephens
(Ugar) Island – his family home
– in 1944, he worked in the fish-
eries industry for a short time
before beginning a career with the
Queensland Police Service, spend-
ing more than two decades as the
Ugar Police Sergeant.
He also served multiple terms
as a councillor on the Ugar
Community Council, where he
advocated for education, health
and native title rights.
Life of service
and was believed to be the last sur-
viving Torres Strait Islands veteran of
WWII. He passed away in Cairns on
“This was the first time I’ve been
on a task that has been focused on
public assistance, and it was a mas-
sive privilege to be involved,”
Cpl Giles said.
“The link between current serving
members and veterans is still alive
The family of Mr Stephen had
nothing but gratitude for the crew of
“Darnley Island [known as
Erub Island] is about 15nm [28km]
away from Stephens Island, where
Mr Stephen was buried. Both of
the islands are on the extreme edge
of Australia’s territorial border,”
Cpl Giles said.
“We had Mr Stephen’s fam-
ily, with his casket, Senator Nigel
Scullion and 51FNQR’s Maj Clifford
De Laine on board. All of the Darnley
Island residents came out to the
boat ramp to watch the casket being
“Obviously, it was a pretty emo-
tional time for the family and friends
involved, but they were happy that
we were willing to help out with the
“The next day, the residents of
Darnley gave us a nice send off.
Everyone was very thankful and had
nothing but kind words for us.”
Torres Strait dancers perform at the funeral of WWII veteran Jerry Stephen.
Soldiers from 10FSB played a key role in transporting Mr Stephen’s body to
Stephens Island for burial.
DEFENCE Minister Marise Payne
attended a meeting of Defence minis-
ters from the counter-Daesh coalition
in Brussels on February 16 to discuss
the military campaigns in Iraq and
Daesh has now lost more than 60 per
cent of the territory it once held in Iraq
and the meeting was an opportunity to
further progress the coalition campaign
against the terrorist group.
While in Brussels, Minister Payne
met with the new US Defense Secretary
James Mattis and new Iraqi Defence
Minister Irfan al-Hayyali to reiterate
Australia’s ongoing commitment to
help Iraq’s Security Forces in the fight
Committed to the fight
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