Exercise in India a chance to reconnect with families

When Private Manpreet Sharma left India in 2009 and joined the Australian Army, he never imagined an international exercise would reunite him with his family after nine long years.

Having left Punjab for Adelaide, Private Sharma joined the Army in 2013 and is posted to 6/13 Battery, 9th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery.

When 13th Brigade began planning for Exercise Austrahind with the Indian Army in Rajasthan, Private Sharma nominated without hesitation.

“I speak three languages – Hindi, Punjabi and Gujrahti – which I hoped would be helpful to the Australian contingent,” Private Sharma said.

With his nomination accepted, Private Sharma sought permission to meet his parents at Bikaner, a three-hour drive from Mahajan Field Firing Range, where the Australian and Indian Armies were based during the exercise.

During a contingent visit to the historic town, Private Sharma had an emotional reunion with his mother, Kalawanti Sharma, and father, Jai Pal Sharma.

“There were many tears and a powerful connection when I hugged him heart to heart. Dad was very proud when he saw the Australian contingent,” Private Sharma said.

Meanwhile, ammunition technician Corporal Kanishk Acharya, of 10th Force Support Battalion in Townsville, also had the chance to reunite with his father, Sitaram Sharma, and mother, Pushpvalli Acharya.

“I was born in India and came to Australia in 2008 to study a Masters of Business. I joined the Australian Army in 2015 as a way to give back to this country that has given me so much,” Corporal Acharya said.

“I haven’t seen my parents in seven years, and they were ecstatic, emotional and excited all at the same time when we met up at Bikaner.

“I’m hoping to return to India next year during the Diwali Festival, which is our equivalent of Christmas.”






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