Edwin’s military career spanned an impressive 24 years, enlisting in 1985 at the age of 19 and retiring in 2008. During that time he worked his way up to a Warrant Officer Class II in the Royal Australian Infantry Corp.
Edwin’s career included tours of Iraq, Somalia, and two tours of East Timor.
A passion for teaching
During his military career, Edwin had a passion for developing the skills of younger soldiers and took a number of postings in instructor roles, including his last posting a the Warrant Officer and Non-Commissioned Officer Academy in Canungra.
“You get to pass on your knowledge to the young soldiers coming through, and see them develop within their careers.”
“A lot of the soldiers that I’ve trained have progressed up through the ranks and become leaders in their groups. That is something I take pride in.”
This passion extended beyond his military career, where he was approached as part of the Army Reserves to assist with various indigenous programs. This has involved travelling to remote regions, to talk to young indigenous people and educate them on the option of the military as a career.
“It wasn’t a recruitment drive, we were simply looking to ensure they were aware of the military as an option for them. As a young indigenous man myself once I know the military was good for me so it was nice to share that with the next generation.”
The role of sport, in the Infantry and after
Edwin was also known for his keen interest in sport throughout his military career – and he was a keen rugby union player.
“Sport was a big part of it – the way I like to describe it to people is that being in a barracks is a bit like being in a boarding school.”
“You’ve got to find different things to do and sport was a big outlet. You would always have competitions and massive rivalries between different battalions. Especially between the two infantry battalions in Townsville*.”
“Sport was good in many ways, as it gave you something to do, but it also helped to build friendships and importantly developed a sense of teamwork, which is an important part of life in the infantry more generally.”
“Also if you were good at sport there were certain perks that went with that. Sometimes you’d get called back from the field if there was a big game on and they wanted you to play.”
Edwin also reflected on the role of sport as a tool for managing transition following military service.
“It’s not just the work side of things, you need to adjust in your personal life as well, for me that meant finding a new touch footy club for example.”
“A big help for me was family. My kids were doing a lot of sport and being involved with that, going to carnivals, meeting people, getting to know people and it progresses that way. Getting involved in the community really helps, and sport is a great way to do that.”
Looking out for your mates — the importance of keeping in touch outside of the military
Edwin has stayed in close contact with his Army mates in his post-military life and says that this is a big part of managing the transition from military to civilian life, by being there for each other.
“In 1993 we lost a man on tour in Somalia and in 2017 our former Platoon Sergeant was struggling with his loss and reached out.”
“I was a Section Commander on that tour and the Platoon Commander and I went to meet him in Canberra. We paid our respects at the War Memorial there and then we travelled to Forbes to meet the mother of our fallen friend.”
“The three of us, and the mother, all visited his grave together the day before ANZAC day. We met the president of the local RSL and ended up leading the Forbes ANZAC day march.”
Edwin also looks to support his former military mates who live near him in Queensland.
“In Brisbane, we always try to catch up once a month and it’s just a catch up to see who’s around and see how everyone is.”
“A good mate of ours passed away a couple of years ago and we still try to catch up with his parents, to make sure they’re going alright.”
“It’s about looking out for each other and making sure everyone is alright – keeping that support network there.”
Family and the future
Edwin joined the Army in the footsteps of his Uncle, a Vietnam vet, and he retired from the military to spend more time with his family - and family continues to be a focus for him moving forward.
Edwin’s indigenous family is the Wakka Wakka people, from Gayndah in Queensland.
“I’m getting more involved with the family in relation to our Cultural heritage and the knowledge that needs to be passed on by our elders.”
“So that’s become a bit more of a focus within the family, and also that’s pretty good for my kids to be aware of their heritage as well, and the knowledge that comes out of that.”
*First Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, 1 RAR and Second Forth Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, 2/4 RAR.