Growing up in a small holiday town in Tasmania, Corporal Andrew Undy never realised how the Army would create so many experiences and capabilities for his military and civilian work.
CAPTION: Australian Army Corporal Andrew Undy during a direct-fire support weapons course at the School of Infantry, Lone Pine Barracks, Singleton. Story by Captain Jon Stewart. Photo by Corporal Michael Currie.
A native of Blackmans Bay, Corporal Undy had generations of family history to look back on when considering a career in the Army Reserve.
“I enlisted while I was at university, joining the 12/40 Battalion, the Royal Tasmania Regiment,” Corporal Undy said.
“My father and grandfather served in the Army, with my father joining the 12/40 Independent Rifle Company – the predecessor to our current battalion.”
Reflecting on his father’s experience, Corporal Undy notes that today’s Army is a different place to when his father served.
“I really enjoy hearing about my father’s service and how things have changed since then,” he said.
“It helps to appreciate how modern the Australian Army has become, particularly the role of reservists.”
Since enlisting in 2010, Corporal Undy has deployed with the Transit Security Element as part of Operation Resolute on two occasions, and with Operation Bushfire Assist during the Black Summer bushfires in 2019 and 2020.
During his deployments on Operation Resolute, Corporal Undy recalled the varied nature of his experience along Australia’s northern borders.
“So many different experiences occurred during Operation Resolute, which helps you build resilience and patience in a whole new way,” Corporal Undy said.
“Sometimes we were in standby mode, prepared to move and spring to action rapidly and then when we were required, it would all spin up extremely quickly. We needed to be ready for anything.
“During the second deployment, I supported intercepting multiple illegal fishing operations – one after the other – to shut them down and prevent exploitation of marine reserves in Northern Australia.”
But it was during his time supporting Operation Bushfire Assist that tested Corporal Undy’s capabilities and resilience the most.
Corporal Undy joined hundreds of ADF personnel on Kangaroo Island, SA, to support the recovery and rebuilding of the devastated community. Here he experienced a completely new side of Army life.
“The interactions with people were overwhelmingly positive and being able to help out really drove home why I was in the Army in the first place – to help our country when it needs it the most,” Corporal Undy said.
“Walking over a hill and seeing nothing but ash as far as I could see was pretty sobering. Just how close some of those people came to losing absolutely everything, including their lives, was something I’ll never forget.
“It was a pretty rough time, but we got do our part to help restore their lives and begin to rebuild the Kangaroo Island community.”
Corporal Undy joined the direct-fire support weapons course, recently conducted at the Singleton Military Area in NSW for the benefit of Army reservists.
“It’s been eye-opening to see just how essential this capability is for the 2nd [Australian] Division,” Corporal Undy said.
“Learning about the weapons systems employed on this course that aren’t standard in Reserve infantry battalions is crucial to ensure part-time soldiers have the same capabilities as full-time soldiers.
“I definitely have a much greater appreciation for these weapons. The Mark IV 84mm Carl Gustav was a lot lighter than I expected it to be – you can manoeuvre it easily and run with it, which adds to the utility of such an important heavy weapon.”
Looking back on his Army career, Corporal Undy recognised the role played by those he’s served with and how his experiences have helped in the civilian world too.
“The friends I’ve made in the Army have helped me build a strong professional network that has supported finding civilian employment opportunities,” he said.
“The skills I’ve learnt here – medical, administrative, logistical – have all added to my employability in the civilian world, and the Army has allowed me to develop those skills in a unique and incredibly rewarding environment.”