When Lance Corporal Damian Day joined the Army in 2016, he never expected to be back in his hometown of Gatton, Queensland helping the community recover from devastating floods, as part of Operation Flood Assist.
CAPTION: Members from the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry) clears a route for SES in Gatton in Queensland. Story by Lieutenant Geoff Long.
But with his mum and dad still living on the farm in nearby Laidley, he’s more than happy to help this strong rural community and the people he grew up with get back on their feet.
Lance Corporal Day, an armoured crewman with the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment, is part of a deployment of about 70 soldiers that have set up in Gatton to help the recovery efforts throughout the Lockyer Valley region of Southeast Queensland.
He’s one of a number of drivers that can take the regiment’s Bushmaster and Hawkei protected military vehicles (PMVs) and MAN 40 trucks into areas not easily accessible by regular vehicles.
The vehicles allow the Regiment to bring stores, equipment and personnel into cut-off areas and to help council remove debris and rubbish from houses and businesses impacted by the floods.
Lance Corporal Day is happy to help, but first he has to answer the calls and the recognition in the streets from people that want to reconnect with the former local boy.
Lance Corporal Day went to nearby Laidley State High School, where his mum still teaches, he was also a regular in the Gatton Hawks rugby league team from Under 13s onwards.
While he wanted to join the army when leaving school, he had the opportunity of completing a painting apprenticeship, which he did throughout the Lockyer Valley.
He also worked at the meatworks at Grantham for five years, a job he loved for the camaraderie.
However, when the price of meat plummeted during the drought in 2016, he decided to act on his childhood dream and join the Army.
“The camaraderie we have in the Army in many ways reminds me of the good times I had growing up in and around Gatton. I always love coming back, so to give back to the community as part of Operation Flood Assist is very special for me,” Lance Corporal Day said.
“I’ve already bumped into a few guys I know and I expect I’ll connect with a few more over the next week or so, and they really appreciate that the Army is here to help,” he added.
It has been five years since Lance Corporal Day left the community to join the ADF. He nominates a six-month deployment to Iraq as one of his career highlights, but he thinks coming back to help the Gatton community will also be up there as one of his best achievements in future.