Digger home for the holidays

TERRY Malone’s Ballarat family haven’t seen him for a few years –mainly because he’s been holed up in Afghanistan for the past 12 months.

But this Christmas, Warrant Officer Class Two Malone made the trek to Ballarat to reunite with two of his three brothers. The break comes after a few years marred by the deaths of three family members and one of his soldiers, Corporal Ashley Burt, who was killed by a rogue Afghan soldier at Tarin Kowt in October.

“Sending one of your blokes off and them not coming back is pretty hard,” Warrant Officer Malone said.

“And losing family members in a short space of time and you can’t get away and mourn.”

Warrant Officer Malone was born in Ballarat and went to school at St Alipius Parish School and St Paul’s College before becoming a signwriter. After three years of being in the army reserves, he headed to Queensland where he joined the Australian Army in 1992.

“One day I was sitting around doing nothing, the next day I joined.”

Warrant Officer Malone became an army cartographer, mapping areas where battles would take place.

 He did three tours of duty in East Timor, one to Iraq in 2006 before heading to Afghanistan last year.

“For the first six months, we were rocketed every night. We’d freak out a bit when the sirens went off and you had about six to eight seconds to get ready.”

They lived in hardened shipping containers but a rocket was still able to blow a roof off his quarters one time. He also witnessed the unintentional suicide bombing of a refuge for mothers and their children.

“The suicide bomber ran out of petrol and was pushing his car to the governor’s compound to blow it up and they all ran out to help him push and it detonated killing 20 women and 20 kids.”

Warrant Officer Malone has now been posted to Brisbane as an operations warrant officer.

“The hardest thing is fitting back into society,” he said.

“I love my job, I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.  I’d go overseas again in a heartbeat.

“But it’s good to get back here and see the clan.”

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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