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March 3, 2011
By CPL Zenith King
THE Deputy Commander of Australian
troops deployed and operating in the
Middle East, CDRE David Johnston,
will return home this month on promo-
tion to RADM.
CDRE Johnston said he could not
have imagined being promoted to
RADM when he enlisted 33 years ago
and was still adjusting to the idea.
"I could never have imagined an
opportunity like this while I was com-
pleting year 11 at Naval College," he
"This promotion is an incredible
honour and to have the opportunity to
move into the senior ranks of the Navy's
leadership team is a wonderful privilege.
"I have been fortunate to have been
helped along the way by some extraordi-
For the past five months CDRE
Johnston has been deployed to the
MEAO and said he was incredibly proud
to be a part of Navy's rich operational
"Navy has been in the Middle East
since 1990," he said.
"Our role here has shifted over time
as our operational requirements have
changed. Currently Navy personnel
from the Fleet Battle Staff, commanded
by CDRE Greg Sammut, are leading
Task Force 150."
CDRE Johnston said HMAS Stuart
was also supporting counter-terrorism
operations in the Gulf of Oman.
"The ship is working with other
nations and providing security for mari-
time trade and also helping deter pira-
cy," he said.
"The RAN ships spend the bulk of
their time conducting anti-terrorist oper-
ations, which involves looking at the
movement of people and narcotics as we
Proud of Navy's
know there are links between narcotics
and the funding of some counter-terror-
CDRE Johnston said he was always
proud when hearing about the success of
Navy in the MEAO.
"Stuart has only been in the MEAO
for a month but they are working incred-
ibly hard at what they do," he said.
"The ship had only just crossed into
our area of operation when she began
conducting boardings. I'm proud to say
that she was straight into it and ready
From the MEAO CDRE Johnston
will be posted for three months to
Exercise Talisman Sabre as Deputy
Commander to the US Commander of
the Seventh Fleet.
ON DUTY: CDRE David Johnston
visits soldiers from a patrol base in
the Chora Valley during a battle cir-
culation in Afghanistan.
Photo: SGT Neil Ruskin
Soldier's ultimate sacrifice
TRAGIC: Flanked by a
guard of his mates, SPR
Jamie Larcombe is fare-
welled from Afghanistan in
a moving Memorial Service.
Photo: CPL Christopher Dickson
INSET: SPR Larcombe
with his partner,
Photo: Jeff Anderson
By SGT Andrew Hetherington
SPR Jamie Ronald Larcombe was
known in the 1st Combat Engineer
Regiment (1CER) as "a truly out-
His mate, SPR Robert Armand,
1CER, used these words and more
during his reading of a heartfelt eulo-
gy at an emotional memorial service
held at 1CER, Robertson Barracks,
on February 24.
Larcombe was killed in action on
February 19, when his Mentoring
Task Force 2 (MTF 2) patrol was
attacked by a group of insurgents
in the Mirabad Valley region of
He was the 23rd Australian soldier
and the second from 1CER this year
to die in Afghanistan since Operation
More than 1000 of the 1st
Brigade's soldiers attended the
Darwin service where they heard
about a man and professional soldier
who never wavered in his faithful-
ness to his mates no matter what the
"You never shied away from a
difficult situation and pushed through
the hard times with that renowned
Aussie attitude," SPR Armand said.
"You are an immortal Anzac
now mate, up there with Akka (CPL
Richard Atkinson) looking over us
and especially our mates overseas.
"See you again one day, and we'll
enjoy a beer together and no doubt
listen to some ACDC."
After reading through messages
left on SPR Larcombe's Facebook
wall, SPR Armand said it was heart
warming to see how many people he
"Typical of the kind of person
you are mate, loved by all," SPR
"Mateship is what
defines the best in
an Aussie digger and
Jamie was among our
-- LTCOL Darren Huxley,
"One comment read 'only the
best die young; you were the best
Jamie, the very best of mates to us
all. You have paid the greatest sacri-
fice for your county'."
SPR Larcombe began his journey
home from Afghanistan on February
22. He was farewelled by his fel-
low combat engineers, MTF 2 and
Coalition soldiers, who paid tribute
to his sacrifice at a moving memorial
service at Tarin Kot.
Combat engineer and friend, SPR
Trent Wicker, said SPR Larcombe
was a genuine mate who held his
family and friends close.
"He was the kind of guy who
was always keen to go down to the
pub, have a beer with his mates and
pick you up when you were feeling
down," SPR Wicker said.
CO MTF 2 LTCOL Darren
Huxley said SPR Larcombe was a
young engineer who epitomised the
core values of an Australian soldier.
"Mateship is what defines the
best in an Aussie digger and Jamie
was among our best," LTCOL
More than 2000 Coalition sol-
diers from six nations formed a
guard of honour along both sides of
the base runway at the conclusion of
They paid their final respects to
SPR Larcombe by saluting him as
the ASLAV transporting his casket
drove slowly to the waiting RAAF
C-130 Hercules, which took him on
the first leg of his final journey home
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