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Anzac Day through a different perspective

PROUD: This Anzac Day, Russell Kilpatrick is thankful for his  career with the Australian Army.
PROUD: This Anzac Day, Russell Kilpatrick is thankful for his career with the Australian Army. Luke Simmonds

RUSSELL Kilpatrick may have served 22 years during the 'peace years', but he saw his fair share of action in one of the most unliveable places on the planet.

Mr Kilpatrick was part of a UN communication mission to deliver a referendum to the little-known annexed zone of Western Sahara in Africa that can be best described as 'sandy'.

"You get out there and there's a bit of sand out there, a lot of gravel and dirt, some shrubs and trees, not much water and few oases,” he said.

"It rained just before Christmas and it was the most they had had in 60 years. It filled up a body of water near Laayoune and hundreds of flamingos turned up and stayed there.

"It was interesting to see how other cultures work - it was like stepping back into biblical times.”

Mr Kilpatrick kept the peace during a time when more than 100,000 Moroccans were at war with about 10,000 indigenous Sahrawi people.

But this Anzac Day he will represent the batch of Australian soldiers who didn't fight in a military conflict during their careers.

"For a lot of us it was what our training had been leading to our whole lives, but it's one of those things; 'Always a bridesmaid, never a bride',” he joked.

Mr Kilpatrick comes from a family of serious military pedigree.

His grandfather Frank 'Sunny' Carter served in France during World War Two and one of his uncles died in action in New Guinea.

Five of his uncles and aunties were also part of the Australian Army and Air Force and it's where he and his wife Gloria 'got hitched'.

He finished his long career as a Warrant Officer Class 1 and Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant and is now the Beachmere RSL vice president.

"Now I help generate the income to assist the older veterans and the younger ones had horrific experiences in Afghanistan, Somalia and places like that,” he said.

"They're a bit hesitant to come forward for help, like the Vietnam blokes were when they came back.

”Anzac Day is an oopportunity to focus on those who have gone before us.”

Mr Kilpatrick's daughter Katie went on to follow in his footsteps and served 11 years in the army, including East Timor, before working with the United Nations in Haiti.


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