While the majority of the soldiers have been working to deliver essential supplies to townships and aid in recovery efforts, others found more unusual ways to help out.
CAPTION: Former bee keeper Trooper Daniel Byford from the 1st Armoured Regiment checks one of more around 800 beehives damaged or destroyed in the Kangaroo Island bushfires. Photo by Corporal Tristan Kennedy Story by Captain Carla Armenti.
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Trooper Daniel Byford with the 1st Armoured Regiment on Kangaroo Island unexpectedly called upon previous beekeeping skills to inspect some of the 800 beehives destroyed by fire on Kangaroo Island and help save the local Ligurian Bee.
Meanwhile, most of the sappers from the Top End’s 1st Combat Engineer Regiment were using their more traditional skills and equipment to clear roads of felled trees to reopen routes.
Almost 500 1st Brigade soldiers deployed to support bushfire-affected communities in the south-east of the country.
The Darwin and Adelaide-based soldiers flew in to support local authorities and volunteer agencies.
Commander 1st Brigade Brigadier Ash Collingburn said there was no shortage of willing bodies within the brigade when the call to support was received.
1st Brigade soldiers and officers were integrated into each of the three separate Joint Task Forces and worked alongside state fire authorities and other agencies such as Australian Aid and the Red Cross.
The 1st Brigade contingent included infantry soldiers, medical technicians, logistics specialists and engineers.
Infantryman Private Joshua Coleman, from Adelaide’s 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (7RAR), witnessed the devastation to the bushland from the window of a Singaporean Chinook helicopter.
“We flew out to Combienbar and, as I looked out the window, it was an eerie juxtaposition between the very green, lively coast and the black, dead forests,” Private Coleman said.
Despite the visual devastation, another 7RAR soldier, Corporal Todd Madden, said that he was impressed by the Australian fighting spirit amid the crisis.
“There was a willingness from these men and women [residents affected by fire] to not only continue to persevere in the face of remarkable adversity but an insistence to help those worse off than themselves,” Corporal Madden said.