Recent veterans Laura Callcott, David Hombsch and Ryan Ginty. Picture: Max Mason-HubersFOR Ryan Ginty, Laura Callcott and David Hombsch, serving the nation in Afghanistan and the Middle East during the 13years of Operation Slipper made the hard slog of military training worthwhile.
Operation Slipper, as the Australian contribution to the war in Afghanistan was known, ended on December31, 2014, when the Operation Highroad training and advisory mission began.
To recognise the 34,500 defence, civilian and federal police personnel who took part in the operation, a series of welcome-home parades are being held on Saturday in nine cities around Australia.
Group Captain Hombsch, Leading Aircraftwoman Callcott and Flight Lieutenant Ginty are part of a large contingent from the Hunter who are taking part in the Sydney march, which is expected to attract more than 6000 participants.
It starts at 10am on the corner of George Street and King Street, and will be followed by a commemorative service at the Anzac memorial in Hyde Park at noon.
Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs, a Slipper veteran and Vice-Chief of the Defence Force, said the events were to give the Australian public a chance to thank all who had taken part in Operation Slipper since October 2001.
Flt Lt Ginty, 29, said he did one tour of duty to the United Arab Emirates in 2011 and a second to Afghanistan in 2014, based at Kandahar.
It’s good to see that what you are doing is having an actual effect,’’ Flt Lt Ginty said.
LAC Callcott, 25, said she was ‘‘born and bred in Warners Bay’’, joined the RAAF in 2009 and was deployed to the UAE in early 2011.
LAC Callcott said some shifts were ‘‘so intense you didn’t have time to think about it’’.
Serving overseas was something she regarded as a personal achievement and she was looking forward to marching in Sydney.
Group Captain Hombsch, 45, served in the Middle East in 2003 and was back in the area as an adviser in 2008.