Private

Benjamin Chuck

2nd Commando Regiment

In the early hours of June 21st, 2010, high in the mountains of Kandahar Province, an American Blackhawk helicopter, flying low and fast and carrying Sierra One Sniper Team of 2 Commando Regiment, crashed, taking lives of three Australian Commandos and a member of the flight crew. All others on board were injured, some seriously. These brave and committed ‘band of brothers’ were once again being inserted deep into enemy territory in defence of freedom and liberty. 

Our son, brother, partner, friend, colleague and mate was amongst those who did not survive.

Commando Private Benjamin Chuck was on his third deployment in Afghanistan and in the past had returned safely from these highly dangerous sorties engaging the enemy in this harsh and hostile land. The lives of many changed forever that dark and fateful night.

Ben had always searched horizons above and beyond the view of the crowd, never really conforming to the normal expectations, never feeling the need to be anybody other than the person he felt most comfortable being…himself.

Ben’s life was filled with fun and adventure. He made the choice early on to embrace all life had to offer, commit himself to his goals and strive to be the best person he could be.

“Benny we are so grateful for the privilege of sharing the glory of your 27 years. You had the courage to be yourself, the determination to make a difference and the strength to carry it out. You enriched and inspired all who knew you. Having known you has been an honour, you have left our world a better but lonelier place. Rest in peace Ben, your job is done. We are all so proud of you and shall forever bask in the warmth of your smile and the joyful sound of your laughter.”

– Gordon, Ben’s Father

Benjamin Adam Chuck was born in Atherton, Far North Queensland on June 18th, 1983. His parents Gordon and Susan Chuck and brother Jason warmly welcomed his arrival, soon to be followed by sister Tiffany.

“I love you son, beyond words that cannot even begin to tell you how much. I hold you and your happiness within my heart each and every day. If I were given the chance to be anything I wanted to become, there is nothing I would rather be than your mother, and there is no one I would rather have as my son”

– Susan, Ben’s Mum.

A quiet, gentle boy, Ben loved the outdoors, the creatures that inhabited it, and was fascinated by the wonders of nature.

“The time spent with my brother will be forever cherished and his memory eternally etched in my soul. We shared a mutual love of the outdoors, animals and adventure.”

– Tiffany, Ben’s Sister

“We had a pretty blissful childhood, not unlike a ‘Boys Own’ tale. Picture scruffy kids riding bikes, cricket in the back yard, water fights and playing soldier. In hindsight, it was almost inevitable Benny would find his calling in the outdoors.”

– Elder brother Jason

“Benny was two years my junior, yet there was never any possibility that he would spend his life in a shadow”
– Jason

Although never a brilliant scholar, Ben was popular amongst his classmates, an enthusiastic contributor to school activities, in particular, sailing, where his talents led him to represent Australia in the 1995 International Cadet World Championships, he was placed 9th overall.

The Headmaster and Board of The Hutchins School, Hobart, honoured Bens memory in the creation of ‘The Ben Chuck Good Man Award’, a mark of respect for the ‘good man’ he was and as a tribute to his selfless commitment to his fellowman and ultimate sacrifice for the Nation. This award is voted on by year 12 students, and presented to their peer who has, through their life at the school, demonstrated compassion for their fellows, courage, integrity, honesty of purpose a belief in oneself and control and discipline over their deeds and actions. All the traits that would contribute to the ultimate compliment,…..to be widely regarded as a ‘Good Man’.

On completion of his schooling, Ben was employed by the Cairns Crocodile Farm, where he learnt to manage risk as a crocodile catcher in the Northern Territory and led him to demonstrate his skills as a presenter at the Crocodile Attack Show at Hartley Creek Wildlife Park, a popular tourist attraction north of Cairns.

“Ben was an extraordinary person and an outstanding human being. He was a much respected and highly valued employee. His more experienced colleagues were amazed at Ben’s crocodile handling ability and his judgement in dangerous situations.”
– Angela Freeman owner Hartley’s Creek Crocodile Adventures

“Ben’s love of animals was legendary. His understanding of reptiles was almost telepathic and to watch him playing with with 4 meter crocodiles made you think he could have been another Steve Irwin if he so desired”
– Brother Jason

He took up Muay Thai and his increased fitness levels and agility were soon evident when he won his two public bouts at Cairns Ringside.

“I could not remember one negative moment we had in the gym, everything I asked him to do, he did and never once questioned me. That was why he was successful at everything he put his mind to. If my son grows up to have half the qualities that Ben had, I will be a happy man. I am absolutely honoured to have been a part of his life….your son was a wonderful person.”

– Dan Rush, Muay Thai Instructor, Cairns

Ben never lost sight of his ultimate goal, to become a licensed helicopter pilot, and was fully aware of the financial commitment this involved. One day Ben came home a little despondent and unsure where his life was heading.

“Well Dad,” he said, “I get paid $15 an hour to entertain the tourists feeding and enticing crocodiles, something that has inherent dangers and requires a unique sense of judgment. Surely I can put myself to better use than this with a more stable long-term future ?”

“ I am sure you can son”, I replied, “In a perfect world, given every choice, what comes into your mind above all others?”

“Easy Dad,” Ben said, “I want to learn to fly helicopters.”

“OK, first we need to find a way of financing your dream.” Was my response.

A couple of days after that fateful conversation an advertisement in The Australian newspaper caught Ben’s eye….

”If you think you have what it takes….come and see us….we’ll tell you !”

It was a message from the Australian Defence Force, appealing to the adventurous few who had aspirations to join a direct intake to the Special Forces Commando Regiment.

Ben had found a way to afford his dream.

“Ben will be remembered by all here at Bankstown Helicopter as a skilled pilot with a highly likable personality and admirable commitment to serving the nation and helping others. We will always remember Ben for his love of flying and his fine ability as a pilot. I truly found Ben to be a very special person, he will always hold a place in my heart”

– Bill, Chief Pilot, Bankstown Helicopters

After completing basic medical checks and recruitment interviews, Ben was enlisted as a member of the Direct Intake on 11th May 2004.
Thus joining his career with his two grandfathers who as Squadron Leader Bob Maguire and Major Harry Chuck served with the Australian Forces during World War 2.

Ben loved being in the Special Forces and his letters home were testament to the satisfaction he gained from the intensive training, the skills he was learning, and the mates he was making.

“I knew Ben Chuck as a true gentleman. He was a real professional, an amazing friend, and a down-to-earth Australian. He was made for this job….Chucky’s physicality and mental strength showed in his courage under fire. I witnessed his bravery first hand on several occasions….it was truly an honour to have served alongside him. 

Chucky had an incredible love of life, he never wasted a day. He was always out enjoying every moment whether it was kite surfing, mountain biking, or fulfilling his dream of becoming a chopper pilot….but never did he stop being the down-to-earth, laid-back guy that made him so good to be around.

Of all Chucky’s loves, there was no greater than the love he had for his family. He spoke of you all often and so fondly, we all knew he loved you more than words could describe. Ben’s life and the way he lived it will continue to inspire us all.”

– Private R

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.”

– Moose

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)

‘In recognition of sustained outstanding service in warlike operations’ The Meritorious Unit Citation was awarded to Task Force 66 Special OperationsTask Groups IV – XX of which Ben was a proud member.

“So who was Benjamin Chuck?”…asked his brother in arms Steve, “Was it Ben the Kickboxer, Ben the Crocodile Wrestler, Ben the Helicopter Pilot, or Ben the Soldier seen so bravely in action in Afghanistan?

Ben was the guy with who you hated doing gym circuits because he was stronger, fitter, faster.

He was the guy who made your eyes roll when he walked onto a balcony at a barbeque and your girlfriend and all her mates started giggling like schoolgirls because he was in a singlet.

He was the guy, who after a long patrol was checking and cleaning his gear ready to go again, or putting on hot water so his team could have a meal.

Ben always put others first, the most unselfish person I have ever had the pleasure to know.

He was the one person that was annoyingly good at everything, and what was more annoying was that he wasn’t arrogant about the fact that he was good at everything which annoyed you even more.

I still find myself asking …’ what would Ben do Steve, when I am in a situation that I am unsure of ?’

– Private S

“Chucky, the short time I knew you was an absolute pleasure and honour….I remember on that hill when I was dying of thirst and you came over and shared what little water you had…you were such a kind and genuine bloke”. 

– Evo

“Chucky, your drive and determination will always inspire myself and many others. You were a soldier’s soldier, your courage under fire I saw first hand.”

– Private Tariahd

“Ben, you are a true commando in every sense, your family should be very proud of everything you accomplished. You lived your life to the full, everyone looked up to you” 

– Private Jamie

“Chucky your generous spirit, friendly nature and sincerity made you the guy we all loved. You will be sorely missed my friend.”

– Private Jimmy

“Chucky, your ability and professionalism made you a great soldier, your character made you a great man”

– Private Willi

Private Roland wrote to Ben’s dad, “Gordon, I want you to know Ben wasn’t just accepted into our ‘club’…

Ben truly did lead the charge!

He was honestly one of the best of us and we were honored to have him around. We looked up to him more than I think he knew….and we still do. We talk of him all the time and it always feels good to remember him with the mates he left behind. We are incredibly proud to be a part of Ben’s life and he of ours !”

“Ben you always made a bloke feel welcome, your kind heart and open smile will be sorely missed.”

– Private Chris

“Chucky, it has been an absolute pleasure knowing you my friend. You are such a cool dude….I shall forever treasure the memories you left behind. Rest in Peace, my friend”

– Padre Mau

THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE

Ben made a lasting impression on all who knew him and left us in awe of his compassion and lust for life.

May his story uplift your spirits and fill your heart with pride and your future with hope.

At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember them

THE IMMORTAL THREE

For those who choose green and gold replaced
By desert cams and boots tight laced
A rifle, knife and greasy gun
Rain, snow and heat, no home no fun
And when the time to fight arrives
A bill is paid not in cash but lives
Usually theirs but sometimes ours
Unwelcome sorry heart felt hours

No time for hugs, no time for flowers
But now the fight has come to an end for three
Not your time and not for me
Timmy, Chucky and Palms too
Sorry boys the price was you
So those that still stand take a knee
Brothers but not blood are we
Today the lord takes his prize

With three new bronzed Aussies lives
So all those men that call them brothers
Weep not for them
But for their mothers
For the heroes three
Have stepped through God’s portal
Their bodies to dust
Their names IMMORTAL

Private Scott Palmer
Private Benjamin Chuck
Private Timothy Aplin

SGT Caswell 23 June 2010 (2nd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment)