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A Veteran’s Story

David Hand was 16 years old when he joined the Royal Australian Navy.

The teenager from Bundaberg started an apprenticeship at TAFE in fitting machines in early 1987 where he filled out a form to join the Navy _ six weeks later received a letter saying thank you for your application here is your ticket to Brisbane.

There were aptitude and physical tests to undergo in Brisbane before he was given a four year apprenticeship with training at HMAS Nirimba at Quakers HIll.

“My parents were happy for me. I was 16 coming from a small country town to Sydney in winter … I did think, what am I doing here?”

He was in RAN for ten years which saw him deployed to several countries including the Middle East during the Gulf War I.

“I found there was a big wide world out there.”

David Hand And Pm Bob Hawke When Brisbane Returned0 A Veteran’s Story
Bob hawke with david hand on the brisbane’s return from the gulf

His first deployment was on HMAS Brisbane to Auckland. “I got so sick they were very big seas. There were 310 crew all up and 70 plus in the engineering department. It was 24/7 and you just learnt to tolerate people.”

He went to sea on the Hobart and Perth as well as Brisbane with deployments taking him to Southeast Asia and South Pacific Islands.

The Leading Seaman Marine technician served on the Brisbane during the Gulf War 190/1991 while it escorted tankers through the conflict zone, conducted anti-aircraft screening protecting the US aircraft carriers and preformed search and rescue duties.

David Hand In Thenavy0 A Veteran’s Story
David hand

He says his Naval service has made him resilient, more tolerant and able to come up with quick solutions.

“If you break down at sea you have to solve the problem, you have to improvise.”

He said the plus side was also getting paid to learn new skills and travel.

“You get to see a lot of good places, there is incredible camaraderie and friendships. I don’t regret signing up.”

He says on ANZAC day he thinks about fellow crew members, and those whose lives have been lost.

David has been a Castle Hill RSL sub-branch member for 32 years and is now a CHRG director.

“To me the RSL Sub-branch is about supporting veterans who don’t know what support is available and also about bringing back (that sense of) camaraderie.

“When I left the Navy there wasn’t any knowledge of what support services were available and how to transition from a military mindset to civilian mindset and that has changed a lot of that has been because of work by Rsl Sub-branches.”

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