Soldier Andrew Melrose is heading off to Afghanistan.
Soldier Andrew Melrose is heading off to Afghanistan. Alistair Brightman

Andrew to serve in Afghanistan

AFTER two-and-a-half years in training Hervey Bay lad Andrew Melrose will head to the Middle East in just under two weeks.

He cannot reveal exactly where he will be deployed, although it is somewhere in Afghanistan.

Andrew will be part of a combat team providing security and protection for two Australian mentoring teams.

Those mentoring teams carry out patrols and training with the Afghan army so the country has more control over insurgency.

The 20-year-old is not nervous about his eight-month stay in one of the world’s most volatile war-torn countries; instead he is looking forward to finally being able to carry out his job.

What attracted Andrew to the Australian Army was his love of the outdoors. After school he studied fitness and sport at Wide Bay TAFE but became bored mid-way through.

“It wasn’t exciting enough for him so he joined the army,” said father Doug, before adding: “I advised him not to, of course.”

But with a dad who served 29 years in the army, during which he was deployed to Vietnam, it seemed inevitable Andrew would follow suit.

Even Andrew’s 23-year-old brother, Tyson, is signing up this year.

Mum Linda admits she is a bit nervous about her only two children serving in the army: “But I just wish the boys a safe deployment and hope they return home.”

Andrew plans on keeping in touch with family via Facebook and no doubt hopes he will receive some special presents when he turns 21 in April.

The birthday will be a tame one for Andrew; the only alcohol he is allowed is during a two-month stand-down.

That break will be spent in the Greek Islands, something Andrew is already planning.

Fraser Coast residents may know Andrew through his sporting success with rugby, swimming and triathlons and it appears that success has carried over into the army.

Already he has been awarded Champion Soldier for 2009, receiving a plaque during a commemorative trip to Vietnam for Long Tan Day.

Andrew is with the 6RAR and will leave for Afghanistan on February 16.

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