Living in grandfather's honour

Becoming a Reservist has changed Jon Chemello’s life.
Becoming a Reservist has changed Jon Chemello’s life. Mairi Manley

IF you are tearing your hair out over the behaviour of your teenage son or daughter be assured there is hope.

Jon Chemello is proof of that.

The self-confessed ratbag has no qualms about revealing his reckless teens and is only-too-keen to tell the world how his grandfather and the Australian Army Reserves changed his life.

Shortly before dying of lung cancer, Aldo Chemello took his grandson aside and gave him a pep talk.

He told him the Italian tradition was for a young man to knuckle down at an early age.

But he had different advice.

"Don't waste your life working for nothing and ruining your health," he said.

"Get out in the world.

"Don't die working."

The death of his grandfather hit him hard, but Jon literally took his words to heart, along with a tattoo of his mentor.

He bears a photo quality image of Aldo on his chest.

"I loved him dearly and respected him immensely," Mr Chemello said.

"I joined the Army Reserves, put my hand up for overseas service and have been to the Solomon's and East Timor in the space of four years.

"It has changed my life.

"I'm no longer that ratbag.

"I am self- confident, skilled and responsible."

"He's a changed young man," said grandmother, Donna Chemello.

"The family is very proud of him."

The trained rifleman and peacekeeper has his sights set on becoming a firefighter.

"I want a chance to be heroic," he said.

"To save lives would be a great thing."

He has made many strong friendships as a reservist and formed strong bonds with young kids he met in East Timor.

He mentors local kids in need, taking them camping and spending one-on-one time with them.

"I was a rebellious kid," he said.

"My parents must be very relieved to see that I turned out okay."

Topics:  east timor solomon islands teenagers youth

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