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August 15, 2013 www.defence.gov.au/news/NAVYNEWS
WO2 Andrew Hetherington
THE Australian War Memorial's lat-
est tribute is to ADF personnel who
served in Afghanistan and the Middle
East Area of Operations.
The exhibition, 'Afghanistan: the
Australian Story', was opened by CDF
GEN David Hurley on August 6.
GEN Hurley said the exhibition
told the stories of ADF personnel
through their own eyes and in their
"It captures all aspects of
Australia's Afghanistan campaign; the
equipment and the evolution of our
tasks; the humour and sadness; and,
most importantly, our people and their
families," GEN Hurley said.
"The exhibition, like the conflict
itself, will evoke a range of opinions
"It speaks to our successes without
ignoring the challenges, particularly
those that lie ahead."
The exhibition features body
armour, an IED blast damaged
Bushmaster side stowage bin, a Scan
Eagle UAV, a Black Hawk engine
cowling from the aircraft in which
PTEs Tim Aplin, Ben Chuck and Scott
Palmer were killed in during a mission
in Afghanistan on June 21, 2010. There
are uniforms, artwork and an audio vis-
ual display telling the stories of more
than 30 ADF personnel and their fami-
lies explaining what their Afghanistan
and MEAO experience meant to them.
The initial idea for the exhibi-
tion and its name came from Director
AWM Brendan Nelson.
In October last year Dr Nelson
was visiting Afghanistan as Australian
Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg,
the European Union and NATO.
"During my visit a soldier there
said to me 'I go to the war memorial
show him what his great grandfather
and grandfather did in the wars, but I
can't show him what I'm doing here in
CPL Nick Wiseman
"REAL words from the real peo-
ple," is how Chief of Staff, Navy
Strategic Command, CAPT
Michele Miller described the new
CAPT Miller was the XO of
HMAS Stuart in 2004, patrol-
ling Iraqi waters, and was on
the scene of suicide bomb boat
blasts against oil terminals.
"We were the on-scene com-
mander for that event," CAPT
Miller said. "We dispatched a
RHIB and helicopter to rescue
sailors from the USN patrol boat
who were critically injured in the
attacks, and then we stayed on to
help reinforce the security of the
oil terminals and the waters sur-
CAPT Miller said that although
the exhibit was titled Afghanistan
it was actually the story about the
wider Middle East area of opera-
tions going back as far as 2001.
"It shows the bigger picture
beyond the headline stories
about soldiers on the ground, and
includes the Navy counter piracy
operations and the RAAF's role in
surveillance and airlift in the thea-
tre," she said.
"Seeing photos and hearing
the voices of people I know made
me smile, but then the photos
of wounded ADF members and
Afghan children gave me a very
real sense of the physicality and
violence on the ground, and this
was very striking for me.
"I think the timing of the exhibit
is great, and I understand that it
will be updated with new stories
every three months or so.
"My father served in Vietnam
and said that the Australian pub-
lic didn't understand what was
happening, on the ground both
in terms of the fighting and the
reconstruction efforts. The timing of
this exhibit is important as it means
regular Australians can come and
see what is happening now and
hear the stories of those who may
even be their neighbours."
Telling stories first-hand
Dr Nelson said the exhibition
aimed to educate Australians on what
had been done there and to understand
the price that had been paid by ADF
More than 30 AWM personnel, led
by co-curator Rebecca Britt, worked
tirelessly to piece together the exhibi-
tion in five-and-a-half months -- less
than half the time it usually takes.
"It was an enormous challenge for
us, but also a privilege to work on" Ms
Although there are not a large num-
ber of objects or artefacts on display,
Ms Britt said they were not intended to
be the focal point of the exhibition.
"The main focus is the multime-
dia audio visual production featur-
ing the interviews and images of the
Afghanistan veterans and their fami-
lies telling their story," Ms Britt said.
"We also have interviews of
Afghans living in Afghanistan, giving
their impressions of Australians."
The exhibition will stay in its cur-
rent location in the AWM for up to
five years and it will likely move to a
larger memorial space as more arte-
facts become available.
AFGHANISTAN EXHIBITS: From left, a Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle, artwork, a mural and a damaged Bushmaster storage bin.
Photos: CPL Nick Wiseman
'Real words from real people'
BIGGER PICTURE: CAPT Michele Miller at the Afghanistan exhibition.
Photo: CPL Nick Wiseman
AT WORK: A painting of Stoker
Emma Conway in the engine room
of HMAS Kanimbla in 2003 is one
of the exhibits.
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