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Army March 29, 2012
Troops pour in for Wagga
As North Wagga went under, soldiers from throughout NSW
came together to make a difference in the regional city, Sgt
Dave Morley reports.
PART-time soldiers from
across NSW descended
on central NSW early this
month to help in the clean-
up of flood-ravaged North Wagga.
The soldiers from 5 Bde came
together from nine units, form-
ing the 5 Reserve Response Force
Company Group (5RRF), com-
manded by Maj Robert Tot.
Maj Tot said the soldiers per-
formed excellently, both in respond-
ing to the call-out and on the ground
in North Wagga.
"There were soldiers who turned
up just six hours after getting a
phone call," he said.
"It was also helpful that 101
Const Sqn, 21 Const Regt, was
already gearing up for their annual
The soldiers were put to work
cleaning up North Wagga Primary
School, community facilities and
Spr Natalie Leahey, of 5CER
in Canberra, said she was excited
about coming to Wagga Wagga to
work in an operation.
"Today's been really good, actu-
ally getting in and doing this work,"
LCpl Mark Tamblett, of SUR,
said he'd been given 24 hours notice
"I've never seen flood damage
like this anywhere in Australia," he
said.Spr Mark Franklin, of 101 Const
Sqn, and a Station Officer with
NSW Fire and Rescue at Revesby,
said he received one day's notice to
"Some blokes came straight
away while others had to finish
things up at work," he said.
"That's the thing with engineers
-- when disaster strikes and we get
the call, then we're there.
"It's a great feeling helping our
North Wagga resident Tanya
Whyte said the reservists were
worth their weight in gold.
"It was just so overwhelming for
my husband and I to look at what
we needed to do, so having the
Army come and help us has made a
huge difference," she said.
Cpl Sean Phillips, of Plant
Troop, 21 Const Regt, a NSW
policeman in his civilian life, said it
had been very sad seeing good peo-
ple's lives shattered.
"But the blokes are stoked with
the job they've done here -- they've
moved over 1500 tons of flood-
damaged furniture and effects to the
tip," he said.
Commander 5 Bde Brig Paul
Blood said he was pleased with the
way the brigade was able to respond
to a near no-notice callout for a
Defence aid to the civil community
"It's been an absolutely invalua-
ble experience for the brigade and a
great opportunity to help the Wagga
Wagga community in their time of
need," he said.
WITHIN hours of receiving a call
to report to their depot, a dozen
Wagga Wagga reservists were
ready to assist the ADF's flood
The soldiers, all members of
A Coy, 1/19RNSWR, dropped
what they were doing and put the
needs of their community first,
despite some of their own homes
being in evacuation areas.
Pte Vaughn Ritchie, who
owns a road marking business,
said local people needed the
"It's the busiest time of the
year for my business, but my cus-
tomers appreciate what I'm out
here doing," he said.
"They've been very under-
standing and just said to call
them when I'm finished here."
Pte Brenton Rose, a mainte-
nance mechanic at Narrandera
Feedlot, said his own town was
also in danger of flooding.
"It's not as bad there as they
first thought, so I've come here to
help," he said.
"After four years in the Army
Reserve this is my first time out
on a real task."
Sgt Dave Sherwood, act-
ing platoon commander for
the clean-up task, said he was
impressed by the way the reserv-
ists didn't hesitate to respond
when the call went out.
"The boys worked really well;
they were all pretty keen," he
Cook Sgt Wendie Sparks
coordinated the delivery of hot-
box meals prepared at Kapooka's
A Coy also supplied an officer
and a clerk for duties at the
emergency operations centre.
The unit contributed another
23 members from CSS, B and D
Coys, who were based at A Coy's
depot during the period.
LOCAL LADS JOIN RESPONSE
A RESERVIST sergeant was
one of the many victims of
the flood that devastated
North Wagga earlier this
Sgt Brad Fewson, who
runs a gymnasium in Wagga
Wagga, said he and his wife
only received a few hours'
notice to move as the river
rose very quickly.
"We packed up what we
could and raised up what we
couldn't take," he said.
"When the CBD had to
evacuate we had gear from
six houses in a massive area
at our gym."
Sgt Fewson said he was
called up to return to duty to
lead an MP team.
"I had to tell them I
couldn't because of what
was going on here," he said.
"The support to the com-
munity from the ADF, SES
and emergency services has
Disaster hits home
Back to class: Members of several NSW-based reserve units help
local emergency services clean up North Wagga Public School.
Photos by Cpl Colin Dadd
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