Following in his father’s footsteps to serve his country, Signaller Jack Connoley reunited with his dad on deployment to Vanuatu, after hard COVID-19 borders separated them in Australia.
His father, Australian Federal Police (AFP) Sergeant John Connoley, has had an extensive career in the AFP and is deployed to Vanuatu under the Vanuatu Australia Policing and Justice Program.
Signaller Connoley is deployed with 22 other ADF members in support of the Vanuatu Government National Emergency Radio Network, a joint initiative between Australia and Vanuatu to upgrade and repair Vanuatu’s emergency radio network.
He said he always had a keen interest in serving his country.
“I can remember being a kid and nagging dad to take me to work with him on the weekends. We have always been close and I knew I wanted a career like his from an early age,” Signaller Connoley said.
“Living in Canberra I was exposed to Defence, with a lot of my friends' parents serving. Dad had worked with Army AFP transfers, so he was really supportive of me enlisting in 2017.”
Sergeant John Connoley has had an extensive career in the AFP after transferring from the Victorian Police in 2007, working predominantly with the Canine Unit in Melbourne, Perth, and Canberra and has also been posted to the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
“This is my second posting to Vanuatu. I first came in May 2015, 10 days before Tropical Cyclone Pam hit,” Sergeant Connoley said.
He remembers the severe damage to Vanuatu’s emergency radio network during Tropical Cyclone Pam that was further exacerbated by Tropical Cyclone Harold in April 2020.
“Moving again from Perth to Vanuatu in 2020, I wasn’t able to see Jack, who was living in Brisbane, due to the hard COVID borders. I’m really grateful to have him here, and proud to see how hard he is working to integrate into the community and train the VPF [Vanuatu Police Force],” he said.
“I spent a lot of time in Vanuatu when Dad was first posted here, so being back with the Army, especially in this role, means a lot," Signaller Connoley said.
“I care deeply and have a lot of respect for the people and culture of Vanuatu and it is a great experience to be able to share my skills and learn from my VPF colleagues.”