While fathers across the country will celebrate Fathers’ Day with their families on Sunday, deployed Australian Army dads, like Brisbane-based Major Varun Singh, will be relying on technology to connect with their loved ones from afar.
CAPTION: Australian Army Major Varun Singh talks to his family in Australia from the Taji Military Complex, Iraq. Photo by Corporal David Said.
Major Singh, who has a wife and five-month-old son in Brisbane, will spend his first Fathers’ Day in Iraq serving with Task Group Taji-7 on Operation Okra.
“It’s pretty tough, because I’ve never been a father before,” he said.
“I guess I don’t know what I’m missing and I think about all the things that I could be doing with my son – so that can be quite hard.
“On the other hand, we have a job and a mission to do over here, so looking forward to just getting that done, going back home and getting to be a dad.”
Major Singh is one of around 90 Australian fathers deployed on Task Group Taji, which is in Iraq to train elements of the Iraqi Security Forces to assist in their fight against Daesh.
Numerous other dads are deployed in Afghanistan, other places in the Middle East and around the world this Fathers’ Day
The Iraq contingent consists primarily of members from Brisbane’s 7th Brigade, but is also bolstered by Defence personnel from across Australia.
Training team leader Captain Evan Smith will have a belated Fathers’ Day gift when he returns to Perth for the birth of his second child during his mid-deployment leave.
“I’m so excited. It’s been hard being away for most of the pregnancy, but to know that I’m going home and will get to be part of that with my wife and our small family – getting another addition – is really exciting,” Captain Smith said.
Captain Smith, who is normally based at Darwin’s 1st Brigade, says he talks regularly to his wife and 15-month-old son.
“I get to see them every day over Skype and see my boy grow, it’s good to know I’ve got their support back home and I’m excited about being home in a few weeks to see our second one.”
With a long military career, Brisbane-based nursing officer Lieutenant Shane Balcombe has become used to being away from his three sons on Fathers’ Day, but says it never gets any easier.
“The tough soldier in me wants to say I can cope with it but I’m not ashamed to say that there’ll be a tear on Sunday,” Lieutenant Balcombe said.
“I just want to say that I miss them, I’m proud of them, and I can’t wait to be on my leave very shortly and have some fun – so looking forward to getting home.”
Lieutenant Balcombe finds comfort in his work, helping Australian and Coalition forces at the Task Group Taji medical facility.
“It helps a little bit when I think I’m over here helping look after other people’s dads to make sure that they get home in the best possible condition,” he said.
“And, as a Task Force as a whole, that we’re over here helping other fathers, their sons and daughters make a better Iraq for them to live in, so that everyone can have a happy Fathers’ Day.”