In February 2005 Ben completed CSTC and on graduation was judged amongst his peers for his outstanding performance and awarded the intakes ‘Top Soldier’. Ben was posted to 4RAR Holdsworthy and in June his unit was off to Malaysia for three months on an RCB rotation focusing on jungle and amphibious training.
2006 consisted of varied courses where he attained a level of merit in IET, Mortars, and Military Free Fall, and qualified in competence over a large range of weaponry.
In 2007 Ben deployed with A Company to Afghanistan on Operation Slipper as part of the reconnaissance team.
Ben gained qualifications in RAPSL and Javelin and First Aid where he became his unit’s Medic.
2008 saw Ben return to Afghanistan, second rotation on Operation Slipper 2.
Ben, had by now embarked on his dream of becoming a helicopter pilot and prior to his final deployment flew his family over Sydney Harbour fully qualified and with the world at his feet. Ben had accomplished his goal and inspired his loving family and many army mates with his determination and perseverance.
“Ben I am glad you got to live your life the way you wanted and enjoyed it to the fullest…you will remain an inspiration to us all.”
Ben had shown an interest in SASR selection and prior to his final deployment, received confirmation that his application had been approved.
A week before Ben’s death, he and his team of Commandos, along with the SAS were engaged in an intense firefight with insurgents known as the Battle of Shah Wali Kot, a Coalition effort to drive the Taliban out of the Shah Wali Kot valley. On his return to base, Ben rang his family saying that he was really proud of the way he and his team had handled what was obviously a very threatening and dangerous engagement.
“I really felt like I have proven myself to be a true soldier”.
“Through their operational tenacity and success, the men of the 2nd Commando Regiment have secured the unit’s position among the very best Special Operations Forces in the world. Ben’s outstanding service provides a shining example to us all.”
– Brigadier Gus Gilmore DSC AM (Commander Special Operations Forces Kabul Afghanistan. 2010)
“I can honestly say that I have never met a group of men quite like Ben and his mates. To me, he and his fellow Commandos were the essence of the very best characteristics of the Australian soldier. I have no doubt they are amongst the best soldiers Australia has ever produced”.
– Major General John Cantwell AO (Commander Joint Task Force Afghanistan – June 2010)
“I am extremely proud of SOTG (2nd Commando Regt.) Time and time again you have demonstrated that you are amongst the finest soldiers in the world.”
– Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston AC AFC (Chief of Defence Force – July 2010)