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Army September 12, 2013
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FOR one 5/6RVR digger
deployed on Op Anode’s
final rotation the experience
couldn’t have been more
different from his first rotation.
Cpl Philip Hodgskiss said he
deployed in April 2006 on a short-
notice call-out with 1RAR’s Ready
“We were called in at the request
of the Solomon Islands Government
and Federal Police to respond to
rioting and unrest,” he said.
“When we landed at Henderson
Field in a Herc we immediately
deplaned and secured the airfield.
“When we got here this time
round we got off the Herc and went
through immigration and customs.”
Cpl Hodgskiss said on his 2006
deployment they patrolled the streets
of Honiara with weapons, wear-
ing body armour and helmets with
“This time our weapons remained
in the armoury unless we were going
to the range or undertaking training.
“When we went into Honiara
on this rotation it was in civvies for
shopping and coffee and to see what
the country was really like.”
Cpl Hodgskiss said the attitude
of the Solomon Islanders had also
changed dramatically between 2006
“In 2006, they were either hostile
or indifferent, about 50/50,” he said.
“There was rock throwing, verbal
abuse and spitting on the ground as
we walked past.
“Now they are really friendly,
they wave and smile and come up to
us to shake our hands.”
Cpl Hodgskiss said a highlight of
the deployment for him was working
with the platoon of Tongan soldiers
as their signaller.
Troops have seen a
lot change in Solomon
Islands over the years.
Sgt Dave Morley
talks with one of the
last Australian soldiers
to leave the country.
Sgt Dave Morley
A CHAPLAIN deployed to Solomon Islands on
Op Anode had the rare pleasure of being asked
to conduct a baptism during the deployment.
Chap Mark Dunn said the baptism emerged
out of a series of pastoral conversations which
began in week one of the rotation.
“I did feel very hon-
oured to journey with
this soldier and help her
prepare for this big step, to
declare her Christian faith
before her colleagues on
operations,” he said.
Chap Dunn said he had
been very pleased with
church parade attendances
during the deployment,
with an average of 50 present each Sunday.
“I’ve also been extremely pleased with the
support of the soldiers of the Tongan Platoon,
who welcomed us in their breezeway for prayers
each night,” he said.
“They’ve brought a passionate spirituality to
our experience and they in turn encouraged and
influenced our Aussie members to join in, and
they often took turns reading the Bible, leading
prayers or singing.”
With members of several Christian denomi-
nations regularly attending Chap Dunn’s church
parades, he had to adapt his services to suit all.
“I’m ecumenical by nature so I loved the
challenge to minister to everyone,” he said.
“I made the chapel services accessible and
relevant to Catholics, Anglicans and all those
who normally prefer a more informal and less
liturgical style of worship.
“Member’s musical talents with guitar and
voice were used every week.”
Not all Chap Dunn’s work was about holding
church parades though.
He said a consistent part of his workload had
been talking to members of the rotation who
needed help with a problem or a challenge.
“I assisted them with issues like the death of
someone close, the fragile or troubled nature of a
relationship, a very ill relative, or a family mem-
ber at home not coping well,” he said.
“Packets of Minties, supplied by Croydon
RSL and members of my home congregation,
usually got their attention.”
Chap Dunn joined the Army Reserve four
“It hadn’t previously crossed my radar any-
where largely because in our Synod, Defence
chaplaincy gets very little airtime,” he said.
“That’s probably driven by a theological
agenda that leans toward pacifism and suggests
anything ‘Defence’ is bad.”
Chap Dunn celebrated his 59th birthday a
few days before his return to Australia.
“I was the oldest of 170 members in the AO,
but I wasn’t the slowest with PT or our BFA run,
so I reckon age is just a state of mind,” he said.
A lot has changed
in just seven years
Times change: Cpl Philip Hodgskiss enjoyed a more stable Solomon Islands during his second tour
with the final rotation deployed on Op Anode. Inset, troops from 1RAR patrol Honiara with body armour
and weapons in 2006 after an outbreak of violence.
Photos by Cpl Amanda Campbell and Capt Simone Heyer
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