Each Christmas, Corporal Tamika Brinkley and her family visit her grandmother’s resting place at Bega cemetery on the south-east coast of NSW.
CAPTION: Corporal Tamika Brinkley, a command support clerk from the Army Personnel Administrative Centre – South Queensland. Story and photo by Corporal Jacob Joseph.
“Christmas has always been really big for our family – we cover her grave in tinsel,” Corporal Brinkley said.
It was just one of her family’s Christmas traditions.
“Whoever wakes up first gets to ring a bell,” she said.
“We have coffee and then head to the cemetery.”
With her family now split between Sydney, Canberra and Bega, Christmas is normally the one time they all get together.
But this year the command support clerk will join her family online from Australia’s forward operating base in the Middle East.
“I’m going to wake up at midnight so I can be there for the most important part – opening presents,” Corporal Brinkley said.
“My little cousin is only eight years old so I might need to wake up a little earlier to beat him to it.”
Currently deployed on Operation Accordion, Corporal Brinkley is normally posted to Army Personnel Support Unit – South Queensland and is one of dozens of ADF personnel working at Headquarters Middle East to support operations across the Middle East and Africa.
This is her first deployment since joining the Army in 2018.
With just one month left before returning to Australia, she said she would miss the people, who had become another family she would celebrate Christmas with this year.
“I was nervous coming over but I was also very excited. I had no idea what to expect,” Corporal Brinkley said.
“This experience has exceeded my expectations and I’ve met some really great people.
“It’s such a small group that, after six months, we’ve become a family.”
Personnel at Headquarters Middle East will join coalition forces on Christmas Day for a lunch, backyard cricket, BBQs and secret Santa.