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Sgt Dave Morley
FOR one recruit who spent his child-
hood years walking barefoot across
four African countries, the Kapooka
Challenge was hardly a challenge.
Former refugee Pte Theogene
Ngamije marched out of 1RTB on
But his connection with the
Australian Army stretches back 22
years – to the month – to the Kibeho
refugee camp in Rwanda.
Pte Ngamije was separated from
his family when the refugee camp was
attacked by the Rwandan Patriotic
Army in April 1995.
“I was lucky to survive, but the
scars of that day remain forever,” he
“Later that day a tall Australian
soldier took a knee and offered me a
piece of biscuit and the ANF patch
from his uniform, which I still have to
“I will never forget that kindness
and I shall forever be grateful.”
After that day, Pte Ngamije never
saw his parents, two sisters and brother
“My uncle, aunty and cousin, and
another boy from our village, stayed
together as we moved from one refu-
gee camp to another,” he said.
“All the time I kept the ANF patch
the Australian soldier gave me.
“When I was at school in Zambia
I learnt more about Australia in geog-
Pte Ngamije said since leav-
ing Rwanda he never had a place or
country to call home, and felt lost and
“On January 19, 2011, I came to
Australia – a wonderful country and
people,” he said. “Australia gave me a
home and hope again, and now here I
am, proudly an Australian soldier.”
Pte Ngamije said he was serving
for all Australians, especially the sol-
dier who helped him.
“I hope the soldier who gave me
his patch hears this and knows I am
now stepping into his shoes to serve
and to do good,” he said.
“That soldier changed how I saw
the Army and inspired me to join
because it’s the greatest thing a person
“I can’t think of a better way to pay
back this great nation than joining the
Sgt Dave Morley
TWO former RAR section
commanders who took part in
Operation Tamar – the Australian
contribution to the 1994-95
UN peacekeeping operation in
Rwanda – attended Pte Ngamije’s
march-out parade to give him
RSM of the WO and NCO
Academy at Canungra, WO1 Brian
Buskell, who was a section com-
mander in B Coy, 2RAR, when
he deployed to Rwanda, said it
was fantastic that Pte Ngamije had
joined the Army.
“I think it’s really good for the
650 guys and girls who went to
Rwanda to be able to see and hear
about this – it’s created a lot of
discussion among the veteran com-
munity,” he said.
“It’s just really good to see Pte
Ngamije achieve something out of
something so tragic.”
Senior instructor at the WO and
NCO Academy at Canungra, WO1
Brian Moore, was a section com-
mander in A Coy, 2/4 and 2RAR,
which provided security to the med-
ical support force and the remainder
of the contingent.
He said it was a humbling
experience, as a soldier, being able
to represent the sailors, soldiers
and airmen who also served on
Operation Tamar who weren’t able
to be at the parade.
“Having witnessed the inhuman-
ity over there, it’s good to recognise
we’ve seen something positive
come out of what was an extremely
negative experience,” he said.
“I’ve had a chat with Pte
Ngamije and he was pretty nervous
before the parade, but he’s much
more relaxed now.
“I think he’s thoroughly enjoyed
it all and he’s just making tracks
now to the next challenge he’s
going to have in his life.”
Kibeho to Kapooka
Rwandan refugee joins our Army after carrying an ANF uniform patch for 22 years
IF YOU were the digger who
gave Pte Ngamije his ANF
shoulder patch, or were there
when he was given the patch,
please contact Army News at
au to tell us your side of the
From tragedy comes hope
Later that day, a tall Australian soldier
took a knee and offered me a piece
of biscuit and the ANF patch from his
uniform, which I still have to this day.
Pte Theogene Ngamije
Then-Rec Theogene Ngamije
runs through the bayonet
assault course at 1RTB
before marching out.
Below: From left, WO1
Brian Moore, Pte Theogene
Ngamije and WO1 Brian
Buskell at Pte Ngamije’s
Photo: Sharp Shots Wagga
May 18, 2017
Photo: Sgt Dave Morley
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