Retrieving a runaway trailer is just one way ADF personnel deployed on Operation COVID-19 Assist have lent a hand to communities where they have operated.

Lieutenant James Finlayson from 3 Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, (3 RAR)said members of his platoon helped a motorist with the trailer after it came away from a ute towing it.

“We’ve helped in all sorts of situations,” Lieutenant Finlayson said.

“The relationships we have made in the community have meant a huge amount to me and my platoon members.

"When we left our check point, one local came out to say goodbye – others were almost in tears."

Soldiers from 3 RAR have spent the past months at some of the most remote check points on the NSW-Victoria border, including at Alpine Way, Tintaldra and Jingellic in the Snowy Mountains.

Lieutenant Finlayson was right at home in the regional area as he grew up in a farming community near Goondiwindi in Queensland.

But that didn’t mean the deployment didn’t bring challenges.

“This has been a unique operation, far different from what we normally train for, or what we do day-to-day in the barracks,” Lieutenant Finlayson said.

“For a start, we left a Townsville winter of about 25 degrees to arrive on deployment after one of the heaviest snowfalls in years.”

He said another highlight of the deployment was working with NSW Police.

Commander of Operation COVID 19 Assist in NSW Brigadier Mick Garraway said the impact of the operation would be felt for a long time after it was wound up.

“These young defence force personnel have done a great job,” he said.

“The positive impact they’ve had on these communities is likely to be talked about for many years to come.

“I’m proud of them.”

The 3 RAR contingent working on the border will return to Townsville within the next few weeks.