Zac describes his first deployment, to East Timor on three hours’ notice, as ‘a good test of the waters for a soldier’. He learnt about the practicalities of soldiering and embraced the opportunity to learn a new language and develop his communication skills.
His training stood him in good stead in Afghanistan. His initial reaction was stunned:
With fraught local interactions, vehicle checks became a source of ongoing tension and patrols through the local villages could be deadly. You never knew who might be trying to kill you.
Zac again worked hard at learning the local languages. He came to admire the resilience of the Afghani people and their ingenuity. Their ability to ‘make water run uphill’ through their aqueduct system particularly impressed him.
He also remembers Piyaraja. A young Afghani girl who, at risk of severe punishment, brought them naan bread ‘real food’ when they were on checkpoint duty.
‘Mountains of Mordor’