I never thought hanging clothes out on the line would result in me diving for cover. An everyday domestic chore, coupled with a crack of lightning and a clap of thunder would take me back to Afghanistan.
I'm the 21st member of the Lovett family to see active service for Australia, a proud family of the foreign Gunditjmara people of the Western districts in Victoria.
My military service has seen me serve in East Timor and again in Afghanistan.
The modern battlefield is still a battlefield, and there is no shortage of ways in which a soldier can be killed or injured.
The bad lands surrounded you. The enemy, well they blended in. They struck on their terms, and their attacks were indiscriminate. A rocket launch from five kilometres away on a dodgy homemade launcher could kill and wound unsuspecting soldiers going about their business in the relative safety of a military base far from the front line. A crude roadside bomb was also a weapon of choice, dug into the earth, waiting to be triggered. The weight of the vehicle or even a soldier would unleash hell.
It's awakening was devastating.
A mate killed, or maybe wounded. A long journey of grief for an unsuspecting family back home in Australia begins. We were in communication lockdown. They could not contact me and I could not tell them I was safe. I remember a memorial for a fallen digger was set up in the taskforce chapel. I didn't know him well, but I felt compelled to pay my respects. It was 3:00am in the morning and I sat there in silence. I sat thinking about his family and thinking about mine. My wife, sons, my extended family. I'm a father of three grown boys the same age as soldiers I served with.
Parents worried for these children's safety. My children worried for mine, and the loving wife was always there to reassure family that her husband would be fine.
The war was my adventure, but my family's hell. Some quiet time with my wife, she said quietly ‘Our hell's over now, but yours has just begun.’
I was wound real tight, but now slowly unwinding.
Reviewed 02 June 2022