The circumstances couldn’t be more different but compassion and respect were at the heart of each Jonathan Church Good Soldiering Award ambassador’s story, recognised at a ceremony in Canberra on March 1 to mark Army’s 121st birthday. 

One soldier helped Afghans escape the Taliban, another prevented domestic violence where some may have looked the other way. 

The Chief of Army’s Jonathan Church Award is awarded annually to junior soldiers and officers who personify compassionate and ethical soldiering.The award is named in honour of Trooper Jonathan Church.

Corporal Quinn Jensen and Corporal Taylor Cameron were selected from a group of five who received gold-level commendations. 

Corporal Cameron, from 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, gave his neighbour refuge from domestic abuse; while 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment section commander Corporal Jensen helped evacuate Afghans from Hamid Karzai International Airport. 

Corporal Jensen's quick thinking negotiated safe passage of the Afghan women’s soccer team aboard a flight to Australia.  

With his section providing security at Abbey Gate – one of the airport’s main entrances – Corporal Jensen saw the players scattered among the crowd pressed against a barricade. 

He identified the women by their FIFA passes, referenced against a list of personnel approved to enter the airport. 

Corporal Jensen negotiated with the British commanding officer, who banned all travel through the gate to prevent the swelling crowds overrunning the airport. 

“I had to do some sort of, ‘hey mate, how you going? I’m Australian,’ type of thing,” Corporal Jensen said. 

“My lieutenant was having no luck, so when a corporal came up to him he was a bit shocked and I got through to him a bit more.

“I offered him a section of troops to reinforce the wall, which the boys were happy to do.” 

Just days later, the gate was the scene of a deadly blast that killed 13 US Defence Force personnel and scores of civilians. 

The players were evacuated to Australia, returning to the soccer pitch last month in Melbourne, and hope to compete in Victoria’s women’s competition this year. 

Corporal Jensen said anyone would have done the same. 

“What we were doing over there you couldn’t have done if everyone wasn’t 100 per cent on board,” he said. 

“The lads got stuck in and did the job.” 

Corporal Cameron was recognised for his actions closer to home, after he intervened in a domestic violence incident to protect a woman and her child.

Because of the confronting nature of the event, Corporal Cameron decided to move his family.

Later, when his section commander learned why he was no longer living at his residence, his Regimental Sergeant Major tasked his fellow soldiers to help him move to a safe location.

The self-described private individual said the significance of his actions were still settling in and he didn’t consider himself a role model. 

“As an Australian soldier it’s what we do,” he said. 

“I feel like helping is one of the most important things about being a soldier. It’s more of an instinct.” 

The Jonathan Church Good Soldering Award recipients from 2020 and 2021 were also recognised at the ceremony alongside this year’s winners, after COVID-19 restrictions prevented their ceremonies from taking place. 

In July, all recipients will undertake a battlefield study tour of northern France and Belgium.

While there, they will support Unrecovered War Casualties-Army to dedicate new headstones to recently identified fallen WWI soldiers.

Trooper Church was a Special Air Service Regiment combat medic who served with the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR).

In 1995 he helped save children whose parents had been massacred. His soldiering personified Army’s 10 core behaviours and the ethical dimension of the profession of arms.

Trooper Church was one of the 18 soldiers killed in a training accident when two Black Hawk helicopters crashed at High Range near Townsville on June 12, 1996.

The list of award recipients can be viewed at Army News online at: