Air Force family members reunite on deployment in the Middle East
17 November 2015
Two family reunions have recently taken place at Australia’s main air operating base in the Middle East Region, with a pair of sisters and some first cousins touching-base after months apart.
Leading Aircraftwoman Emma Chapman, a Personnel Capability Specialist in Combat Support Unit (CSU) 13, spent almost seven months as the Postal Clerk responsible for sending and distributing mail for up to 350 Australian Defence Force and British Royal Air Force personnel located on the same base.
As her deployment came to an end, Corporal Naomi Chapman's rotation with CSU 14 Security Detachment was just beginning and the sisters were able to spend four days enjoying each others' company.
Leading Aircraftwoman Chapman said. during long deployments most people want nothing more than to spend a few hours with a family member or loved one.
"We were lucky enough to get that chance," she said.
"Despite us both being in the Air Force, the fact that we have different musterings [trades] means spending time close to each other has been rare.
"The only other time we've been in uniform together was when I attended Naomi's recruit training graduation parade in 2013.
"Funnily enough, my first ever job was at Hogs Breath Cafe in Townsville when I was fourteen years old and Naomi was my supervisor."
As Leading Aircraftwoman Chapman packed her bags and prepared to head home, Corporal Naomi Chapman began acclimatising and settling into her role as a section commander within the CSU 14 Security Detachment.
"It's pretty rare to run into each other at work but I'm glad we were able to share the experience of deploying together in some way," Corporal Chapman said.
"Even if we only had four days together, they were a great four days."
In similar circumstances and on the same base, Aircraft Technician Warrant Officer Kevin replaced his first cousin, Warrant Officer Rick, as the Warrant Officer Engineering (WOE) for the strike element of the Australian Air Task Group.
With over fifty years combined military service between them, Warrant Officer Kevin acknowledged that the cousins brought a great deal of experience to the role.
"As far as we know this is the first time relatives have handed over positions at the level of WOE," Warrant Officer Kevin said.
"Obviously we're here to achieve as close as possible to a 100% aircraft serviceability rate in order to meet the high-tempo operational flying demand.
"But equally importantly is maintaining the morale of our personnel.
"The whole experience of leading a trained professional technical workforce on an operational deployment is going to be very rewarding.
"I'm also looking forward to interacting and learning about the local culture."
Warrant Officer Kevin said that taking over the role from his cousin was pretty easy as they had stayed in touch throughout the deployment and talked a lot about the role already.
"He's kept me well informed and it makes me proud seeing the good work Rick's achieved over here," Warrant Officer Kevin said.
"Being cousins definitely made for a smooth transition."
Warrant Officer Kevin and Corporal Naomi Chapman are currently deployed in support of Australia’s contribution to the international coalition to disrupt and degrade the Daesh threat.