This year more than ever, Captain Caleb Sinclair wished he could be home for Christmas.
CAPTION: Australian Army Captain Caleb Sinclair, deployed to the Middle East on Operation Accordion. Story and photo by Corporal Jacob Joseph.
The signals officer, who is deployed to a forward operating base in the Middle East, said his home town of Rochester was still picking up the pieces after devastating floods ravaged the community in October.
“It was really rough,” Captain Sinclair said.
“People are living in caravans in their driveway.
“Walls were cut in half because the insulation was mouldy; most houses you can see into at about knee height.”
The northern-Victorian town has a population of about 3000 and almost every property was damaged by floodwater.
Residents left without basic amenities, such as water and sewage.
In a town where everyone knows everyone, Captain Sinclair said the community would unite this Christmas.
His family’s holiday traditions would continue in trying times.
“Each year, everybody piles into my mum and dad’s house,” he said.
“We all have Christmas lunch and then hang out in the pool afterwards — It’s nothing fancy.”
Just weeks into his six-month deployment on Operation Accordion, Captain Sinclair manages the communications staff at Headquarters Middle East.
Normally posted to 1 Combat Service Support Battalion in Darwin, he is one of dozens of ADF personnel deployed to Camp Baird to support operations across the Middle East and Africa.
He planned to be in Rochester this Christmas but deployed early because his counterpart became ill.
He will join the dozens of ADF personnel and coalition forces for backyard cricket, a BBQ and exchanging secret Santa presents.
“I also bought presents for my family before I came over,” Captain Sinclair said.
“There’s going to be a lot of phone calls and video chats on Christmas morning.”