Committed to military life

PETER Simeon was a young boy who wanted excitement and adventure. Army life has given him plenty. 

Peter has recently been promoted to Warrant Officer Class One and is now the Regimental Sergeant Major of the 25th/49th Battalion, Royal Queensland Regiment.

It is a role he has aspired to after 26 years in the Army. With 400 soldiers associated with the unit, Peter said it has been a learning curve to settle into the position. The 25th/49th Battalion has the most Battle Honours of any unit in the Australian Defence Force. 

He couldn't be happier though and only the day after we talk Peter travels for work, something he has become very accustomed to. 

Peter's first introduction to travel was courtesy of Greenaway's Coaches for the hour and a half trip to school each day. He attended Wingham High and joined the army in 1988 after graduating.

Waving goodbye to his parents from Wingham Train Station at the age of 18, Peter boarded a train bound for Wagga Wagga.

His destination was the Army Recruit Training Centre (ARTC) at Kapooka. At the time, this farmer's son was simply looking for a way to see the world and to get himself "sorted out." Staying on the farm he said, was not sustainable.

Initially signing up for six years, little did he realise that nearly three decades later he would still be wearing a military uniform.

After completing basic training Peter was posted into the infantry corps and said he was on a good wage for a young fella. Scrimping and saving while training as an infantryman, Peter admits he was not worried back then about having a girlfriend. The life of a young infantryman was not very conducive to romance and this young solder put his full focus on living by the corps motto of "Duty first".

After being posted to Townsville, Peter was deployed to Malaysia in 1989 followed by Somalia in 1993. These two experiences were eye opening for a young Peter who came face to face with the harsh reality for many who live in poverty and civil unrest. The Somalia based Operation Solace was the first active service deployment of Australian soldiers since the Vietnam War and returning soldiers were awarded the Australian Active Service Medal (AASM) and Infantry Combat Badge (ICB). 

Widespread famine and civil war threatened a massive humanitarian disaster in Somalia and the Australian Army offered much needed, and requested assistance to the United Nations as it battled to rebuild infrastructure and deliver humanitarian assistance. Peter said soldiers fostered a greater understanding of the plight of locals who struggled to get even the basic necessities of life. He is thankful for the experience and humbled by it. His skin is thicker now and he said life in Australia is often sheltered with many not realising just how good we have it.

There have been many postings since, all equally challenging and thought provoking. He has travelled around the world with the army including Hawaii, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, East Timor, Iraq and New Zealand. The Iraq War was the most recent conflict that Peter served in. For eight months he was with the Security Detachment in Baghdad as the Company Sergeant Major and the company was responsible for looking after the Australian Ambassador to the Australian High Commission.

Peter has just finished two years of living and working overseas in New Zealand training officer cadets at the Officer Cadet School of New Zealand. Upon their graduation from the school they were the newest officers in the New Zealand Defence Force. 

The travel has kept him interested and active and after many moves Peter and his family are used to the disruption. Peter gave up the single life many years ago when he married his wife Kim.

They have two children, Jon 18 and Emily 14. Jon is currently waiting for his enlistment date and plans to be a diesel mechanic for the army. The family return as often as they can to Elands, visiting Peter's parents, John and Dawn Simeon, on their farm. Peter acknowledges his parents as his biggest supporters, other than Kim, and calls them the backbone of a lot of things.

"They certainly understand my commitment," said Peter whose enthusiasm for the military life is anything but half-hearted.

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