Digger Ben in Afghanistan action
AN Australian Digger who hails from Coffs Harbour has spoken about the highs and lows of his current deployment in Afghanistan.
Corporal Ben Chandler has spent two months controlling the arrival and departure of helicopters such as Apaches, Chinooks and Blackhawks at Kandahar Airfield.
The 29-year-old says while he is focused on the job at hand, his thoughts are very much at home with his partner Ami and his family and friends.
"That’s probably the hardest part about being deployed," Ben said.
"I just miss everyone so much. I’m really looking forward to seeing my family and friends, 4WD driving — and tearing up the track on my dirt bike with some mates when I get back to Coffs in March next year."
Throughout his tour of duty Ben has witnessed firsthand the dangers of the conflict.
Overall though he says the best part of the deployment is knowing he’s making a difference.
"When I’m working with the Americans, I’m looking after their helicopter movements, which involves giving the pilots their missions and seeing them through to completion," Ben said.
"Aero-medical evacuations (of wounded soldiers) are the most urgent and unfortunately the most common missions – pilots are doing them everyday. I’ve seen them get a chopper up in the air in three minutes.
"Once they had to pick up a seriously wounded Coalition soldier from the green zone. From receiving the call, they had the casualty back in less than 25 minutes.
"The soldier lived, so that shows what an amazing job they are doing."
"It feels good to help people get home - even if they are injured, at least they survived.
"I’m learning a lot from the Americans and I plan to integrate some of their processes into my unit’s processes back in Australia.
"So far, this deployment has been a real eye-opener and it has been great to do my job in a real operational environment," he said.