You couldn’t wipe the smile from James Roodt's face when the Australian Defence Force Academy temporarily inducted him as its youngest ever trainee officer.
The five-year-old Sydney boy loves all things Army and wants to be a soldier when he grows up.
Despite going through a tough time with ill health, James' wish hasn't dimmed.
The Starlight Foundation, with the support of the ADFA, was able to grant James’ wish to be a soldier for the day during ADFA’s Year One Familiarisation Training (YOFT) program at the Majura Training Area near Canberra.
After being issued with his own pair of custom-size DPCUs and a bush hat, James enthusiastically joined the first-year trainee officers of ADFA’s Foxtrot Squadron.
Over the course of a very busy day, James got to participate in a number of activities, including riding in a Bushmaster, helping first-year trainee officers set up field shelters and meeting the ADFA Band.
As tokens to remember his special day, James was presented with a slouch hat by ADFA Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Freeman and an Army teddy bear from the trainee officers of Foxtrot Squadron.
James’ favourite part of the day was riding in the “truck” (Bushmaster).
“It was really noisy and fun,” James said.
James’ father, Donovan Roodt, said his son had been interested in the military ever since their neighbours’ son joined the Army at the start of 2019.
“Since then, James has loved hearing his stories whenever he’s been home on leave,” Mr Roodt said.
“James loved every minute of his day with ADFA. The way he opened up to the trainee officers over the course of the day was amazing to see.
“The staff and trainee officers at ADFA went above and beyond in helping James have a great day, and we can’t thank them enough.
“James definitely still wants to join the Army when he grows up, even more so now than before.”
Corporal Adam Richards, of Army Headquarters, a visiting instructor to ADFA during the YOFT period, was James’ host for the day.
“James’ request came through to me in my role at Army Headquarters and I floated the idea to ADFA," Corporal Richards said.
"The ADFA staff were supportive and wanted him to have the best day possible.
“Ever since I gave him his uniform, the smile hasn’t come off his face.
“He had a great day.”