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12 WORLD NEWS
Army August 18, 2011
MORE than 80 soldiers from
Rotation 24 of Operation Anode
were welcomed home at Irwin
Barracks, Karrakatta on August 6
after a successful four-month
deployment to Solomon Islands.
A transfer of authority cer-
emony was held on August 3
where Rotation 24 was replaced
by Rotation 25, which comprises
approximately 110 soldiers from
NSW-based 5 Bde.
During the ceremony, outgoing
Commander CTF 635 Lt-Col Paul
Landford handed over command
to Lt-Col Campbell Smith.
Lt-Col Landford said during
their deployment the soldiers had
successfully engaged with the local
people, gaining their trust and con-
"The Regional Assistance
Mission to Solomon Islands is
evolving and the highlight of my
12-month tenure has been to influ-
ence the incremental shift from
security to local capacity develop-
ment," Lt-Col Landford said.
Tpr Sam Woods, 10LHR,
deployed to Solomon Islands as
part of an infantry platoon in
"I joined the ARes as soon as
I finished school and to have the
opportunity to deploy has been
great," Tpr Woods said.
"I will always remember my
time in Solomon Islands; the peo-
ple are really friendly and they
always wave at us and smile.
"I know we are having a posi-
tive impact by just being here."
By Cpl Zenith King
BORN in Rhodesia Pte Duncan Cooke,
a reserve infantry soldier, has lived a
life few Australians could imagine. But
instead of dwelling on the past, he has
forged a new life in Australia and was
grateful to have the chance to deploy to
Solomon Islands on Operation Anode.
"It was an opportunity for me to give
a little bit back to Australia because I am
really grateful to be here after everything I
have been through," he said.
"I just feel that a lot of people who
come to Australia aren't giving enough
back so I thought by joining the reserves it
was my opportunity to do that."
During a land reform program in
Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe,
Pte Cooke was struck in the head with a
machete while working on Butleigh farm
"I was 25, had just finished a university
degree in agriculture and had been work-
ing on the farm for about two years," he
"At the time the government were
attacking farmers, taking their land away
and giving it to the people. It was supposed
to be part of the land reform program but
ended up being given to ministers and poli-
ticians and used as bribes.
"Eventually our farm was targeted, des-
ignated and taken off us very violently. I
ended up with a machete in my head and
was badly beaten up. I spent about a week
in hospital after they fractured my skull
and chopped off my ear."
A week after that terrible day, Pte
Cooke was released from hospital and
returned to the farm.
"Almost everything was gone," he said.
"All of the tractors and equipment were
stolen but we were lucky they didn't burn
the house down. We managed to get what
furniture was left. That's when I started
the process of applying for residency in
A fourth-generation Rhodesian whose
family immigrated from the United
Kingdom in the 1800s, Pte Cooke's child-
hood was a driving force behind his deci-
sion to join the infantry in 2006.
"Back in Zimbabwe I had quite an out-
door lifestyle and enjoyed camping, hunt-
ing and spending time in the bush," he
"I thought this would be a good oppor-
tunity to get a bit of that back and a good
way to meet some Australian people and
make some Australian friends.
Now at the end of his four-month
deployment, Pte Cooke said he wasn't sur-
prised like others in his platoon when he
arrived in Solomon Islands.
"There are many similarities to life in
Africa," he said.
"It's a tough country, so in that respect
it wasn't a culture shock for me like it was
for some of the other guys who were really
"I'm just grateful that we were given
the opportunity to patrol out into the vil-
lages. Everyone is so friendly and they are
always keen to come up and talk to you."
For Pte Cooke the highlight of the oper-
ation was celebrating Anzac Day with the
rest of CTF 635.
"It was quite an honour to be on an
operational deployment, marking Anzac
Day," he said.
"I don't really consider myself African
anymore. I'm an Australian now."
One grateful Aussie
New life: Rhodesian-born Pte Duncan Cooke enjoyed his
deployment on Op Anode.
Photo by Cpl Zenith King
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