As Australian Army soldiers finalise their plans for Anzac Day, Warrant Officer Class Two Michael Dowling from Headquarters 1st Division is packing his bags and heading home to Norfolk Island.
After nearly 20 years of service, this year will be the first time Warrant Officer Class Two Dowling has attended a Dawn Service in his hometown since enlisting as a 19-year-old rifleman.
Despite Norfolk Island having a mere fraction of his local Brisbane’s population, it will be a significant occasion because Norfolk Island RSL Sub-Branch has invited him to be guest speaker on Anzac Day.
“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” Warrant Officer Class Two Dowling said.
“I still have my mum, dad and sisters there and I’ve been wanting to get back for a while, so getting invited personally is a big opportunity.
“It’s really important.”
A veteran of six deployments, including Afghanistan and Timor-Leste (East Timor), Warrant Officer Class Two Dowling also lent a hand to his local community earlier this year after flooding wreaked havoc in south-east Queensland.
“During Operation Flood Assist, it was confronting to see the damage inflicted on communities.
“I spent roughly three weeks helping residents who’d been impacted and, while it was a challenging job, it was important for them to have our support.
While most of his Army training prepared him for his deployments, he can’t recall a time during his extensive career when the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has been more involved with the community.
“With Operations Flood Assist, Bushfire Assist and COVID-19 Assist, the ADF has been heavily involved in the community – probably more in recent years than I’ve seen in most of my career.
“It’s a good feeling knowing that we can be of assistance in such unique circumstances.
“I think Anzac Day is a good reminder for everyone, not just military personnel, about the connections that exist between the community and the ADF and how important it is to maintain them.”