Solomon Christmas for Private
PIGGABEEN’S Private Jonathan Chemello will be 4000 kilometres from home this Christmas.
Instead of the typical Christmas Day attire of board shorts and a pair of thongs, Pte Chemello will be wearing his Army Reserve uniform and on duty in the Solomon Islands as part of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
Pte Chemello only joined the Reserve in January 2008 as a part-time soldier with the 41 Royal New South Wales Regiment at Tweed Heads.
“I had always wanted to join but it wasn’t until I spoke to my Pop that gave me the incentive to do it,” he said.
“I wanted to serve Australia and to make my family proud.
“I learnt a lot of driving skills from my father as I grew up, which helped me as I have become driver of a 6x6 Land Rover for my section, overseas on operation.
At home Pte Chemello normally works in the construction industry.
When asked about the similarities between the current deployment and his work in the construction industry, he said “waking up early”.
“The highlights of the trip have been carrying out tactical operations with other agencies including the Australian Federal Police, and using my construction skills to carry out essential repairs on the Christian Care Centre,” he said.
Earlier this year the main building was severely damaged by white ants. Although the Sisters of the Church and Sisters of Melanesia, who run the Care Centre, raised sufficient funds for materials, they requested assistance from RAMSI Military. Jonathan volunteered his construction skills to this worthwhile cause.
“It was great to be able to combine the skills from my civilian job and my military job to make a genuine difference,” he said.
Jonathan is missing his father Peter, mother Michaela and two sisters Holly and Maddison. “I also miss just hanging with my mates, I have got heaps of stories to catch up on with them when I return.”