Service a family affair

Although their father is an Air Force squadron leader, having served almost 45 years, all three sons of the Finch family preferred a green uniform.

CAPTION: Sergeant Chris Finch, left, received a Jonathan Church Good Soldiering Award at Russell Offices in Canberra yesterday, joined by family members Squadron Leader Stephen Finch, Mrs Annie Finch and Major Michael Finch. Story and photo by Sergeant Matthew Bickerton.

Sergeant Christopher Finch, an aircrewman, is the oldest of three brothers who all joined the Army with their father’s encouragement.

“We still give him a hard time for being a RAAFie,” Sergeant Finch said, with a laugh.

Growing up in a military family, Sergeant Finch and his brothers moved every three years to different locations, from RAAF Base Richmond and everything in between to Papua New Guinea.

“When I was in primary school, Dad was posted back to Amberley. So my friends at the time wrote a letter to the Air Force requesting we stay in location. The request was denied,” he said, with a smile.

Sergeant Finch said PNG was his favourite place growing up.

“Dad would take me into the mountains to see old defensive positions and aircraft that had crashed during WWII,” he said.

Squadron Leader Stephen Finch met his wife, Annie, in Malaysia during a posting in the late 1970s.

Mrs Finch held the fort at home, getting her boys to their sporting, musical and schooling commitments, while ensuring a warm, home-cooked Malaysian meal was waiting at dinner time.

Out of high school, Sergeant Finch joined the closest reserve unit to his home, which turned out to be artillery, later signing up full time.

His other brothers followed, one joining as an officer and one a gunner, respectively.

Mrs Finch later watched her sons deploy to Afghanistan.

“Mum said she couldn’t sleep every night I was in Afghanistan,” Sergeant Finch said, who deployed as a forward observer.

“This was back during MTF-1 [Mentoring Task Force 1] when we lost 10 Australians. Every time something would pop up in the news about Afghanistan, it would worry her.”

Mrs Finch experienced this three times over.

Sergeant Finch’s middle brother, Major Michael Finch, is a cavalry officer who is attending staff college in Canberra.

“We’re still pretty much best mates. We used to do everything together,” Sergeant Finch said.

Major Finch served in Afghanistan as a mentor at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy in Kabul.

The closest Major and Sergeant Finch came to crossing paths professionally was on Exercise Talisman Sabre in 2019.

“We were supposed to do a combined air mobile operation. Chris was at the airfield and I was in the battle group HQ for 1 Armoured Regiment. They switched off the activity at the last moment,” Major Finch said.

Sergeant Finch feels he and his father played an important role in his brothers’ decisions to embark on a career in Army.

The youngest brother, James, spent almost eight years in uniform, enlisting as a radar operator, piloting Shadow 200 unmanned aerial vehicles in Afghanistan.

Sergeant Finch also was one of the 2021 Jonathan Church Good Soldiering Award recipients, for his actions during the 2019 Townsville floods.

He launched his own boat at night in rising waters and provided sanctuary for a fellow colleague and his family and a dozen civilians.

The next day he voluntarily evacuated 10 more Townsville residents and their pets.





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