Crafty catch-up in the Middle East
10 January 2019
Three soldiers who joined the Australian Army together almost 30 years ago have reunited while deployed to the Middle East region.
Warrant Officers Class One Aaron Writer, Paul Kitching and Wes Rickard began their careers as Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RAEME) at what was then known as the Army Apprentice School.
“When we signed up there were 10,000 applicants and 200 made it through,” Warrant Officer Writer said.
“My career has taken me to workshops in Papua New Guinea, Iraq, Afghanistan and all over Australia – further than I thought on that first day I was in the uniform.”
Warrant Officers Kitching, Rickard and Writer work as a vehicle mechanic, an electronics technician and a fitter, respectively.
“We are responsible for ensuring the maintenance of land-based equipment is conducted correctly and the equipment meets the needs of the operators,” Warrant Officer Kitching said.
“There are only about a dozen ‘craftys’ still serving from the 44th apprentice intake, so it is valuable to have not only that combined knowledge and experience readily available here, but also to refresh the friendships.”
‘Crafty’ is the nickname given to a member of the RAEME corps, who begin their careers at the rank of craftsman.
Throughout their careers, the senior soldiers have carried out various roles, both in and out of trade, ranging from tradesmen, workshop managers, instructors, career advisers, technical advisers and auditors.
“... it is valuable to have not only that combined knowledge and experience readily available here, but also to refresh the friendships.”
It is a tough decision for which role they enjoyed the best.
Warrant Officer Kitching spent a year in a career management role and has also had the opportunity to command an armoured vehicle in Afghanistan.
“In planning roles it is great to close off a lot of your work and see it finalised, I count my year in career management as one of the most rewarding,” Warrant Officer Kitching said.
The role of the RAEME corps is to provide maintenance engineering, materiel maintenance, modification and recovery support to the Army.
Currently there are about 50 RAEME personnel deployed on operations throughout the Middle East and North Africa region.