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Chaplain Campbell Carroll returns from Active Service in the Middle East.  (Written June 2010)


Well, I'm back at work now, and it’s good to back somewhere familiar, though it isn't going to last long because I'm off on Posting to RAAF Townsville in a few weeks.  It feels really strange to leave a place that I very much call home, but that's typical of military life isn't it...

Given the last three years that I've been here, I find myself reflecting on the things I've done - and it’s a lot!

I've only recently returned from Active Service in the Middle East.  I had promised myself, beforehand, I would do some professional development reading.  As a Defence Chaplain I find that by the time I get home, the last thing I want to do is professional reading.  - But not this time; I had taken with me three books I very much wanted to read.  Given that I was in the desert, I figured the environment would create a 'feeling' for the promised reading. 

Nicky Barr - An Australian Air Ace The first book was about Nicky Barr; I couldn't put it down.  I was captivated.  The second was about Clive Caldwell, again I just couldn't put it down.  The third was another about the Desert War in general and it just seemed to put a completely different perspective on what took place there.  It enabled me to gain a very deep appreciation and pride to be part of our Squadron's impressive and extraordinary history.

As I travelled throughout the Middle East I was conscious of my own fore-fathers - not just our Lord (!), but the famous Three Padres who made history themselves, setting a standard I take pride in.  I often found myself thinking about them and wondering what they'd do if they were with me, as I journeyed and experienced what war was all about.

Even when it got difficult (and at times it did…) I was often reminded that for the Three Padres - and both Clive and Nicky - it was 'their own people', the people they led or cared for, that came first.  This same ethic was why I was here in the Middle East in the first place.  It was a very real privilege to serve our people in those places.

Coming home was interesting.  Going to War changes you and it's not until you come home you realise this fact.  I took some time off, but I couldn't really wait to get back to work.  I missed the Squadron - especially the noise and the dramas!

Once again, it was back to Richmond for the pre-ANZAC Day Service and the pride of my working career was marching in Sydney with the Squadron and the last of our WW2 Veterans.  I thought at one point that the Three Padres were there, marching alongside.  A Padre rarely gets to march, and this was a day I was going to remember for the rest of my life.

Our CO granted me a passenger ride in an FA18 and the Pilot was DEVO - someone I admire greatly.  I couldn't believe it! 

- If only “The Three Padres” could have seen it!  Yep, I'm back at work, but I'm sad I'm leaving a Squadron that I feel extremely proud of.  They have always been there both at the highs and the lows.

I think my heart will always belong to 3SQN.   It's odd, but there is something about having been a part of something so unique.  It’s more then a fighter squadron - it's family.


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