Aviator ‘returns home’ to Army

When tactical uncrewed aerial system (TUAS) operator Sergeant Carly Box saw insurgents digging in the road ahead of the convoy she was observing in Afghanistan, she reported it immediately.

CAPTION: Sergeant Carly Box, from Headquarters 16th Aviation Brigade with a Shadow tactical uncrewed aerial system at 20th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery at Enoggera Barracks, Queensland. Story and photo by Corporal Michael Rogers.

When uncovered, the improvised explosive device was found to hold enough explosive power to take out several armoured vehicles.

During her 2009 deployment as a Scan Eagle operator, Sergeant Box accumulated nearly 750 flying hours.

She brought a decade of experience as a UAS operator and mission commander to the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Australia summit as part of the Women in Defence panel.

She saw it as a way to continue to pave the way for women in aviation.

Sergeant Box transferred from driver to TUAS operator in 2007, becoming the first woman to join the Royal Australian Artillery.

She deployed to Afghanistan again in 2013 as a Shadow UAS mission commander.

Following a posting to the School of Artillery, she discharged to travel the world.

This included working on a dog sledding and dairy farm in Norway; at an eco camp and running an organic vegetable garden in Namibia; and, training at a Muay Thai camp in Thailand.

She returned to Australia and opened The Barracks Gym in Brisbane, using her experience to prepare ADF and police applicants for their fitness assessments.

Nearly 2000 people serving in the ADF and police have trained at the gym.

However, losing the gym in the 2022 floods was a catalyst for Sergeant Box to look at returning to the Army after nearly a decade.

At the time, the 20th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery was being brought under 16 Aviation Brigade’s command, and a UAS liaison officer was needed to provide knowledge and experience about the UAS capability to Brigade Headquarters.

“It was refreshing to see how much I had missed the Army. When I put the uniform back on it felt like home. Returning has been really positive,” Sergeant Box said.

“In my time away, I’d had two children. Becoming a mother and being in Defence is totally different to the experience I had previously.

“Being able to bring my experience into this role shows there are opportunities available that not only provide flexibility but the ability to also have fulfillment within your career.”


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