TO: Ian, Terry, the Organising Team, and all the Attendees at the Great ‘CHALKIE REUNION’ at the Kedron-Wavell RSL in Chermside on the 6th October 2012
FROM: Roger Jones, formerly ADAE PNG Command, Murray Barracks, Port Moresby, 1967-69
While I can’t be there myself, I am privileged to be with you at least in spirit on this most important day, which from my perspective sees the formal rebirth of an expanded ‘Chalkies PNG’.
Looking back, and while I didn’t know it at the time, I reached a real high-point in my 21-year service as a regular member of the Royal Australian Army Education Corps when I was plucked out of a non-corps appointment in Army Headquarters in Canberra in early 1967 to head up the fledgling RAAEC component in PNG.
And again, it was not until much later that I was to recognise the significance of the task our small team was embarked on. Our job, essentially, was that of helping to ensure that in a small, troubled, emerging, but hopefully democratic ‘nation-state’ state a relatively powerful military establishment should make that transition without offering the threat of direct military intervention.
It has happened in many rapidly-emerging ex-colonial states in the past, to their detriment, and I believe that we can claim that what we did helped the new PNG avoid that fate.
I’ve never really understood how the Australian Army, which we all know can do some incredibly silly things at times, could undertake such a foresighted, nation-building and essentially altruistic task, but I take my hat off to it. And the fact the Army could actually DO IT, goes down to you.
From my cold old hole in far south Victoria, I wish you all the warmth of reunion, good fellowship and satisfaction in a job well done.
Roll on the ‘Chalkies’, and special regards to old friends like Dan Winkel, Ian, Terry and rest of the gang I was lucky enough to meet up with in Enoggera in April!