Anzac Day is a time of reflection. For Trowutta local David Macauley, this day will be spent thinking about his time on peace keeping missions in East Timor.
It was in 1997 at the age of 30 that David joined the Australian Defence Force.
“I remember the Anzac Spirit stirred something in me, my patriotism and desire to do something for my country,” he says.
Appointed Clark Admin, David was responsible for the administration of a company of more than 100 soldiers. After a posting in Malaysia, he received a Soldiers Medallion for Exemplary Service and rose to become Corporal.
In 2000, he was among the first Australians to arrive in East Timor as the peace keeping efforts between Indonesia began.
“I didn’t know what to expect but the reality was worse,” he says.
“Ninety per cent of the buildings in (East Timor’s capital) Dili were destroyed.”
For the first half of this deployment, David was stationed at an airport and responsible for recording the comings and goings of the base.
The second half of the four-month stint was spent working with sensitive documents in administration.
Describing locals living amongst rubble and rebuilding homes with rubbish, he says it was a heartbreaking experience. Yet, the peace keeping mission restored David’s faith in humanity.
“It was a challenging time but also very rewarding,” he says.
“The resilience of those in overcoming such an incredible act of destruction was astonishing.”
David transitioned to the Royal Australian Air Force after his peace keeping posting before discharging to become a carer for his wife and moving to Circular Head soon after.
As he thinks back on this time, David was motivated to share this message of resilience with others. And so, is donating his RAAF hat and United Nations peace keeping arm band and beret to the Circular Head RSL’s Mick Shelly Memorabilia Room for the community to appreciate.
While it was not an easy decision to part with the items, he hopes the significance what they represent will be appreciated by the community in generations to come.
Circular Head RSL at 123 Nelson Street, Smithton is open seven days a week. Visit the Mick Shelly Memorabilia Room or view a display of Circular Head’s veterans from the Vietnam War and World War I open to the public until Sunday April 28.
Former Australian Defence Force and Royal Australia Air Force serviceman David Macauley, with Circular Head RSL president Jason Chatwin, has donated items which hold sentimental value to the RSL’s memorabilia collection. Picture: Ashleigh Force.