Twenty years after meeting at HMAS Cerberus recruit school, a surprise reunion in the Middle East allowed Warrant Officer Justin Downey-Price and Jeff Seers to reminisce about old times.

Mr Seers, a materials scientist specialist from the Defence Science and Technology Group, said meeting Warrant Officer Downey-Price was completely unexpected, as the two had not been in contact since graduating in 1998.

“I recognised Justin immediately. He has a very welcoming smile, so as soon as I approached him, we both remembered where we had first met,” Mr Seers said.

Although both recruits were planning different careers in Navy, they endured the same challenges during three months of basic training.

Cerberus is infamous for how cold it can get in winter. But to make matters worse, not long after we arrived, the natural gas plant at Longford exploded so the base could no longer heat water,” Mr Seers said.

“Naturally we became experts in having cold showers in the quickest possible time.”

“A strong bond is formed by those who go through the same Cerberus recruit school intake.”

After graduating and spending a number of years serving on HMAS Manoora, Mr Seers left Navy and was recruited by the Defence Science and Technology Group where he volunteered to serve in the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) Middle East headquarters.

“I was keen to undertake this deployment for some time and it certainly lived up to my expectations. It was a great combination of stimulating work, rekindling old friendships and helping the ADF operate at maximum effect,” Mr Seers said.

Warrant Officer Downey-Price has deployed to Joint Task Force 633 as a watchkeeper, where he is part of the operations team providing round-the-clock oversight of ADF personnel throughout the Middle East, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said one of the highlights of deploying was working with people from across the Defence community, including those not in uniform.

“A strong bond is formed by those who go through the same Cerberus recruit school intake,” Warrant Officer Downey-Price said.

“It didn’t matter what your background was, or what trade you were going into, you formed mateships that lasted a lifetime.

“It was especially great catching up with Jeff. And even though he is no longer in uniform, his service to Australia is every bit as important as mine.”