Getting to know the Japanese soldiers embarked on HMAS Canberra for Exercise Talisman Sabre (TS21) has been a career highlight for Australian-Japanese soldier Private Louii Hornibrook, from the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.

“We’ve been swapping rat packs, comparing training, you know,” Private Hornibrook said after a solid physical training session on the ship’s light vehicle deck (LVD). 

With the aircraft lift lowered, there was a strong ocean breeze offsetting the Queensland humidity, making the LVD a popular place to work out. 

HMAS Canberra was transiting north towards Ingham in preparation for the amphibious phase of TS21.

The heat didn't bother Private Hornibrook, who grew up on the Sunshine Coast. 

His British father and Japanese mother met on holiday before settling in Queensland.

Private Hornibrook's grandfather, who served in the Royal Air Force, inspired him to join the ADF.

“Mum wanted uni, but Army has always been my aspiration,” Private Hornibrook said.

“They just wanted me to have a good career and now they see that I’m happy and saving heaps and enjoying my job, they are pretty proud of me.”

After initial training, Townsville was an easy choice in terms of units. 

“I love it. I’m definitely glad I chose 3RAR as my battalion – super-motivated individuals, good rank structure and lots of time to train, so it’s been fun," Private Hornibrook said.

Last week, 3RAR moved from Lavarack Barracks to Bowen where it conducted a mock beach landing before marrying up with US Marines and Japanese soldiers to assault Objective Pepsi: an abandoned coking plant in the middle of town.

From there, the multinational forces loaded onto various landing craft at King’s Beach and embarked aboard Canberra.

This is Private Hornibrook’s first Talisman Sabre and getting to know his Asian and American counterparts had been a great experience. 

That said, at the end of the day, it was his friends who made it memorable.

“The best part about the Australian Army is going everywhere with the mates that I’ve come through training with,” he said.

“A lot of us got posted to Townsville, so being able to experience these new things with all my closest mates is probably the best part about it all.”

The tight-knit camaraderie in 3RAR was obvious hearing the banter from Private Hornibrook’s mates as they ribbed him over his TS21 celebrity status, tallying up each click of the camera’s shutter for the payment they'd receive when TS21 was done.

Seeing the American, Japanese and Australian soldiers playing basketball and doing physical training together on the LVD, it was clear mateship isn’t limited to one army.