Barry Chalk

Gulf War

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Barry Chalk's story

I joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1982 at the age of 17, from a country town in Central Queensland called Clermont. I had only seen the sea once when I was 10. Incidentally both my grandfather and uncle had both drowned in the 1950/60s.

So the Navy was the last thing that my mother wanted me to do as a career. Strangely a majority of Naval personnel actually come from the Bush and make very good sailors.

Upon joining BRISBANE as a Leading Seaman, we deployed to the Gulf War in support of operation DAMASK in company with HMAS SYDNEY. Our longest period at sea was 40 days and that was after the bombing of Baghdad, while we waited for the Australian Government to make a decision as to what our movements were to be – home or stay.

I do remember the fear that I and the crew felt the night that we were told that the push was on to bomb Baghdad in February 1991. I remember walking through the ship and seeing the many emotions of other men excitement, laughing, crying, writing poems and hurried letters home.

I followed this deployment with two others in HMAS CANBERRA (FFG Frigate) in 2002 as a Petty Officer and again in HMAS WARRAMUNGA (FFH Frigate) as a Chief Petty Officer in 2006/2007 in support of Operation Slipper and Catalyst (the Operation against Terror and the Rebuilding of Iraq). These operations involved boarding operations on tankers and dhows in the Persian Gulf for illegal oil, hidden weapons, terrorists and insurgents, while also guarding the 2 main oil platforms near Kuwait.

I left the Navy at the rank of Chief Petty Officer Writer from HMAS STIRLING in March 2010 after serving 28 years. I still miss the Navy and the lifestyle and the mateship that you had; and still do when you meet up with old shipmates at Anzac Day and other commemorations and gatherings. It is truly your mateship and training that keeps you going through any crisis or danger. As I used to tell my sailors: “The good times always outweigh the bad times.”

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