Somalia veterans reunite in the fight against Daesh
10 November 2015
Three Air Force veterans of Australia's assistance to Somalia in the early 1990s have reunited at the Australian Air Task Group's main operating base in the Middle East twenty-one years after their first operational deployment.
Wing Commander Robert "Dubbo" Graham, Warrant Officer Geoff Bird and Warrant Officer Andy were all recently deployed together in support of Australia's contribution to the US-led international coalition to disrupt and degrade Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
Warrant Officer Andy said that it was only after deploying that they learnt they were all serving together at the same place and time.
"It has been great to see some of my fellow Somalia veterans after so long," Warrant Officer Andy said.
"We've been able to share many a memory from our first deployment together."
Following a clan war which turned into civil war in late 1990, Somalia could no longer function as a nation state, and widespread violence and starvation led to international intervention.
In December 1992 the United Nation Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 794 to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Somalia after expressing grave concerns for the deteriorating situation.
Following this resolution, an Australian Defence Force Movement Control Unit deployed to Somalia as part of Operation Iguana to provide assistance to the United Nation led mission.
At the time, a young Flying Officer Graham was deployed to Somalia to provide Air Traffic Control support while Sergeant Bird and Corporal Andy provided Movements support to the second United Nations mission in Somalia (UNOSOM II) in 1993-4.
"Warrant Officer Bird and I were part of the third rotation of movers to go into Somalia," Warrant Officer Andy said.
"Wing Commander, then Flying Officer, Graham arrived as part of the second air traffic control rotation towards the end of my deployment.
"Our role was to provide movement support to United Nation's personnel and equipment by air, road and sea within Somalia and two locations in Kenya.
"It was interesting times as it was just after the shooting down and subsequent capture and release of US Army Black Hawk pilot Chief Warrant Officer Mike Durant during the Battle of Mogadishu which we now know from the book and movie called 'Black Hawk Down'."
Their deployments to Somalia were a first for all three and started a variety of operational deployments between them including locations such as East Timor, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, and various other locations around the Middle East.
Wing Commander Graham and Warrant Officer Bird have now both completed their deployments on Operation ACCORDION as the Combat Support Unit 13 Commanding Officer and the Detachment Operations Warrant Officer respectively, while Warrant Officer Andy is serving on Operation OKRA as the Air Task Group Warrant Officer.
The reunion took place at the Transfer of Authority parade as Combat Support Unit 14 took over from Combat Support Unit 13 at the completion of that rotation's tour in the Middle East Region.