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Army May 9, 2013
Cpl Nick Wiseman
COLD-weather training reached a new
extreme for three soldiers wounded in
action nominated to represent Australia
in an Antarctic trek later this year.
In March, Cpl Seamus Donaghue, Pte
Heath Jamieson and WO2 Scott Warby
travelled to Iceland to hone their skills
in an environment similar to what can be
expected of the South Pole.
With only two positions available on
the Commonwealth team, Cpl Donaghue
and Pte Jamieson will go on to take part
in the Walking With The Wounded Allied
South Pole Challenge with WO2 Warby
remaining on standby to fill in if needed.
Pte Jamieson, who sustained a gun-
shot wound to the neck in Afghanistan,
said the training was better than he had
"Being with wounded people from
other nations, I saw how similar our
rehabilitation journeys have been," he
"It was a very positive environment
despite our injuries and we got on well
with the Canadians."
The Canadians make up the other
half of the Commonwealth team that will
compete against teams from the US and
Cpl Seamus Donaghue, who received
a gunshot wound to his right thigh in
Afghanistan, said the training in Iceland
"We put our own equipment together,
everything from tents to stoves, and
modified everything to work best for us
individually," he said.
"I think the mini-expedition really
pushed people and saw how they went
along with fitness and their injuries in
For those who had not skied before,
the training camp focused on providing
the skills they would need to traverse
the harsh environment and survive in the
sub-zero temperatures of Antarctica.
Simple tasks taken for granted, such
as eating and drinking, require fore-
thought and preparation as items like
snack bars quickly freeze.
Pte Jamieson said everything was dif-
ferent in the cold environment.
"You can't just eat as you would;
you're wearing mittens and can't take
them off as you will expose your skin to
the cold," he said.
"Everything must be prepared the
night before and items such as Mars Bars
need to be broken into bite-size pieces
because it all freezes."
Managing injuries in that type of
environment took on another challenge,
with limited space to conduct simple
Stretching in their small tents at the
wrong time could knock over a stove
where ice is melting and could destroy
the tent -- which would mean the end of
When asked about their plans before
their trip to the South Pole later this
year, Pte Jamieson said they would be
concentrating on training.
"Specific training such as dragging
tyres, endurance and lower-body strength
is important to maintain," he said.
Reflecting on his time in Iceland, Cpl
Donaghue said it was an amazing experi-
"It is a great honour to be selected for
the team and we feel very humbled by it
all," he said.
"It's something we take very seriously
and our intention is to raise awareness of
wounded soldiers within the Australian
WO2 Scott Warby wished Cpl
Donaghue and Pte Jamieson the best in
their training and the Challenge ahead.
"Coming back from being wounded
is a tough and sometimes a long painful
period," WO2 Warby said.
"Going to Iceland and training with
the boys was a great way to get back in an
environment where you're working with
your mates towards a common goal. Much
like being on operations.
"We all went into the Challenge sup-
porting each other, and that's not going to
change. Seamus and Heath are represent-
ing all wounded Australian soldiers as
members of the Commonwealth team. I'm
really pleased for them and wish them all
the best out on the ice."
The Commonwealth team members
are due to get together again later this year
to continue cold-weather training before
deploying to the South Pole in December.
Taking on an icy land
Soldiers brave harsh conditions in training for December trek
Members of the
team push on
through the snow
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