By Megan Mcdermott
Pakenham man Lachlan Smith is spending this Anzac Day following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather and father while serving on operations in the Middle East.
Lachlan’s great-grandfather served in Egypt during the World War I.
Seventy years later, Lachlan’s father deployed with the Royal Australian Air Force flying the UH-1H Iroquois helicopter in support of peace-keeping operations in the Sinai.
Today, Signaller Smith, 24, is on his first deployment with Task Group Afghanistan on Operation Highroad – Australia’s contribution to the NATO-led Resolute Support mission.
As an information systems technician, Signaller Smith works on the deployed computer network, providing essential communications to the 270 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel working in Kandahar and Kabul Province.
“My role here is to provide communications to link us in with everyone else in the Middle East region,” Signaller Smith said.
Being deployed on operations has given Signaller Smith valuable on-the-job training.
“In the IT field, there are many intricacies you can’t learn from a book because they’re job specific,” he said.
“On operations, we can’t rely on the greater network like we do in the field training environment back home.
“We have to learn how to rely on our own equipment.
“This has been challenging but also a great opportunity to learn on the job.”
Before his deployment to Afghanistan, Signaller Smith was posted to 104 Squadron, 1st Combat Signals Regiment in Darwin – a long way from home in Pakenham, Victoria.
Signaller Smith said he missed his hometown and had fond memories of working at Pakenham Target before joining the army at the age of 17.
Just out of high school, he was drawn to a career in the ADF by the prospect of doing something hands-on and out of the ordinary.
His two brothers, Christian, 28, and Jeremy, 22, had the same idea.
“Soon after I joined, my older brother Christian followed in my footsteps – actually more like my father’s footsteps – and joined the air force as a vehicle mechanic,” Lachlan said.
“My younger brother Jeremy joined the army and is posted the 1st Armoured Regiment as an armoured cavalry trooper.”
With Anzac Day fast approaching, Signaller Smith is looking forward to commemorating the day with his close mate and fellow deployed Information systems technician, Signaller Lazar Kamilic.
Over the next few months Signaller Smith will visit each of Task Group Afghanistan’s signals nodes before returning to Australia’s main operating base at Camp Baird and then on to Australia.
With his Darwin posting finishing at the end of the year he hopes to be posted back to Victoria where he can be near his family.