Home' Army News : September 1st 2011 Contents Merici College ....
is a quality, affordable non-government secondary school,
educating girls in a Catholic environment
for its strong focus on pastoral care
ADF mentor on site
technology rich environment
and neighbouring NSW centres
To find out more about Merici College
see our bsite at www.merici.act.edu.au
or contact the Enrolment Officer Ms Trish Ryan on (02) 6243 4102
or by email: email@example.com
Caters for ADF families in the ACT
Army September 1, 2011
FORMER corporal and Black Saturday
bushfire survivor Darrin Gibson has
been awarded the national Bravery
Medal for his considerable bravery
trying to save his family from the
Victorian bushfires in 2009.
With fire surrounding the property
and the house starting to burn, Mr Gibson
and his wife Lesley Leahy and daughters
Kiona, 4, Ava, 2, and son Jye, 3, tried to
evacuate to the safety of the property dam.
After his wife collapsed cradling
Kiona, Mr Gibson carrying Ava hurried
to the dam and returned shortly to find
Lesley and Kiona dead and Jye missing.
Returning to the dam he submerged
himself and Ava until the fire passed and
left to find help. Ava's life support was
turned off three days later and she died.
Mr Gibson suffered significant inju-
ries, losing all his toes and had skin grafts
on his back, feet and hands. He has now
been recognised for his bravery.
Recognition for man
who lost everything
SIEV 36 team's
By Graham McBean
DARWIN MP Cpl Bradley
Bendeich has been recognised by
Governor-General Quentin Bryce
for his contribution to the rescue
effort in the SIEV 36 tragedy in
Cpl Bendeich was recognised in
a Group Bravery Citation with 15
Navy and two Air Force personnel
in the bravery awards announced on
He was serving on Op Resolute
with patrol boats Armidale and
Childers in 2009 and on board
SIEV 36 when it was set alight and
exploded near Ashmore Reef off
One sailor, LS Matthew Keogh,
received the national Bravery Medal
for his contribution to the rescue
effort where five Afghan men died.
Cpl Bendeich said the boarding
crew was in the process of swapping
the tow lines to SIEV 36 when it
erupted into a fireball about 8am on
April 16, 2009.
"When the boat exploded there
was just a sense of disbelief, really,"
Cpl Bendeich said.
"Then I had to come back to
reality and try to focus on keeping
myself alive and try to help the oth-
ers around me."
When SIEV 36 exploded Cpl
Bendeich initially fell through the
deck of the disintegrating fishing
He said watching footage of the
explosion he could see himself "dis-
appearing down the deck". With his
ankle caught, and later discovered
to be fractured, he clambered to get
"It felt like ages. I had to try and
pull my leg out but it was caught on
something. I crawled back up and
hobbled over the side and jumped
into the water.
"At that stage it felt like time
stopped. I had to start thinking 'I've
got this life jacket on and I've got to
According to the citation, the
ADF personnel on the escort vessels
and the SIEV "reacted swiftly and
"The escort vessels continually
manoeuvred their crafts and rescued
as many survivors as possible," the
citation reads. "Ultimately, all nine
Defence force personnel onboard
the SIEV at the time, and 44 pas-
sengers and crew of the vessel were
"Sadly, dozens of casualties
occurred sustaining horrific injuries
and five people died."
Cpl Bendeich said the award was
unexpected but he was honoured to
"I didn't really join up to win
medals or that kind of stuff so I was
just really honoured to get it," he
said. "I was quite shocked when I
got the letter in the mail."
Recognised: MP Cpl Bradley Bendeich is included in a Group
Bravery Citation for his involvement in the SIEV 36 explosion (inset)
Photo by AB James Whittle
Tragedy: Former soldier Darrin Gibson.
Photo by Bill Cunneen
By LAC Bill Solomou
IT'S going to be bloody tough
for Navy, Army or Defence
civilians to beat Air Force in
this year's Australian Defence
Organisation Blood Challenge.
Air Force has won the challenge
for the past two years.
The challenge will run from
September 1 to November 30.
In its third year, the challenge
has grown significantly with an
expected increase of donations of
30 per cent from last year.
Commander Joint Health
Command Maj-Gen Paul
Alexander said the blood products
produced by the Red Cross were
vital to ADF units and deploy-
"We in the Defence force
really profile to the rest of the
community nationally the impor-
tance of blood donations to our
organisation," he said.
To keep up with demand,
the Australian Red Cross Blood
Service requires almost 27,000
donations every week.
One in three Australians will
need blood or blood products in
their lifetimes, and only 3 per
cent of Australians donate blood.
Australian Red Cross Blood
Service CEO Jennifer Williams
said the ADF involvement played
an important role in promoting
blood donation to the community.
"Defence's involvement is
wonderful; it has a large impact
on promoting the value of blood
donation," she said.
Ms Williams encouraged all
Defence members to join the
challenge, and said "may the best
This year, each service has an
ambassador. All three members
have received donor blood and in
all cases it was life saving.
Army's face of the challenge,
WO2 Dennis Ramsay, required a
blood transfusion in 2008 when
he was struck down by a life-
threatening illness. Both his legs
were amputated below the knee.
"I pretty much had every sort
of blood product; whole blood,
platelets and fresh frozen plas-
ma," he said.
"It was the blood from donors
which brought life back into me."
To join the challenge, log in to http://
nominate your Service.
A donor ID is required to join online. You
can ask for your ID at the time of donat-
ing or call the Blood Service on 13 14
95. Family and friends are welcome to
join the challenge.
Soldiers, sailors aim to
catch RAAF in blood
challenge's third year
Give generously: CA Lt-Gen David Morrison and Australian Red Cross Blood Service CEO Jennifer Williams team
up to promote the Defence Blood Challenge.
Photo by LAC Bill Solomou
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