Bagpipes might not be every Latino’s instrument of choice, but a soldier who arrived in Australia alone from Bolivia when he was 19 years old is now the commander of his battalion's Battlefield Clearance Team that doubles as the unit’s pipes and drums platoon.
Corporal Javier ‘Speedy’ Aguirre started working at a Spanish restaurant on the Gold Coast not long after arriving in Australia in 1999.
“It was easier for me for language reasons,” he said.
“I was enjoying my job and decided I wanted to be a chef.
“My boss at the restaurant suggested and inspired me to join the ADF.”
He applied to join the Army as a cook in 2005 after gaining citizenship and completing a Year 9 equivalent course in maths, English, and fitness.
“At the time, there were no vacancies for cooks, so I decided to enlist as an Army Reserve rifleman,” he said
After marching out of Kapooka, he was posted to the 25th/49th Battalion, Royal Queensland Regiment, then transferred to the Regular Army and was posted to the 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, in 2008.
He thought of becoming a cook again in 2015, which was the time 8/9RAR was re-raising its pipes and drums and personnel transferring in were encouraged to join Pipes and Drums Platoon.
“I didn’t have any experience with music or bagpipes at all, but once I was introduced to the world of bagpipes, I started enjoying it,” he said.
Once I was introduced to the world of bagpipes, I started enjoying it.
“On my second deployment to Afghanistan, we had some Scottish soldiers with us who also played bagpipes and helped me so much.”
On return from deployment, he joined the Pipes and Drums National Serviceman Memorial Band in 2015.
“I do that in my spare time. Like everything else, you get better by practising and playing often,” he said.
Corporal Aguirre said the highlight of his piping career so far was sharing the stage at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, in 2015.
“I’ve also represented Army twice in New Caledonia for Bastille Day, played at the Royal Australian Regiment’s 70th birthday in Canberra, Anzac Day marches, Bronco’s home games, funerals and dining-in nights,” he said.
Corporal Aguirre has completed deployments to Solomon Islands, East Timor and twice to Afghanistan.
Pipes and drums courses have been conducted annually at 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, for the past six years. This year’s course also included 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment members.