Flight Lieutenant Jack O’Neill is a Royal Australian Air Force dental officer currently deployed on Pacific Partnership 2022.
CAPTION: Air Force Dentist Flight Lieutenant Jack O’Neill (right) and Dental Assistant Leading Aircraftwoman Ocean Mitchell perform a dental procedure onboard United States Hospital Ship USNS Mercy during Pacific Partnership 2022 in Palawan, Philippines. Story by Captain Sarah Kelly. Photo by Corporal Brandon Grey.
He is working in the dental clinic on board the United States hospital ship USNS Mercy providing essential dental services and oral education seminars as part of the largest multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific region.
“I grew up in Sydney and I always pictured myself becoming an engineer as I loved to tinker with things, but I also had a passion for medicine,” Flight Lieutenant O’Neill said.
“It was actually a last minute conversation with my year 12 career advisor where I discovered I could mix both passions and become a dentist, so I did.”
Fast-forward to today and the Mercy dental clinic is a flurry of multinational uniforms all working together to provide world-class dental service to the Province of Palawan in the Philippines.
“Working with partner nations has been an enjoyable experience, I am learning something new every day,” Flight Lieutenant O’Neill said.
Now in its 17th year, Pacific Partnership aims to enhance multilateral cooperation through civil-military collaboration, medical exchanges and interagency coordination with host and partner nations.
“A lot of our partner nations’ dental equipment is identical to ours, however, some of the terminology is a little different and figuring that out has been humorous at times,” Flight Lieutenant O’Neill said.
The Australian Defence Force dental team will be working on board the Mercy ship and providing oral health education at various health outreach fairs in regional locations throughout the Province of Palawan.
“I am absolutely honoured to be here in the Philippines working with our host and partner nations, representing Australia and helping bring more smiles to the faces of the Filipino community,” Flight Lieutenant O’Neill said.