Signaller Sean McCarthy

Signaller Sean McCarthy

Special Air Service Regiment

At 14, Sean revealed he wanted to join the Army, to follow a long family tradition. As soon as he completed year 12, he traveled to Brisbane Recruitment Centre and signed up to join the Australian Army. Due to his high grades at school, he was encouraged to join as an officer through the Australian Defence Force Academy but Sean was pretty keen to enlist as a normal soldier as he believed he would enjoy a more hands-on role. Sean received his acceptance letter that stated that should he be successful with his initial training he would be posted to 7 Signal Regiment at Borneo Barracks located in Cabarlah, Toowoomba.

Sean completed his recruit training and arrived for his initial employment training to become an Electronic Warfare Operator in 2003. One of the most technically difficult courses in the Army but Sean excelled and received the student of merit for the course. He would not talk about his Army time due to its sensitive nature even though it was always asked by his mates and family. He did talk about his desire to move towards Perth and the Special Operations 152 Signal Squadron who were embedded with the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR). Sean quickly established himself as a stand out operator with highly regarded Electronic Warfare skills.

Whilst the Army occupied much of his time, he always loved to spend time with his family and mates with a big focus on socialising, sometimes with green beer and a draped Aussie flag that symbolized his Irish Australian background. Being of Irish descent he always celebrated “St Patrick’s Day” as his 2nd birthday. Sean was immensely proud of his family and he doted on his two younger sisters.

Having established himself within the Signaller community, Sean’s eyes turned to Perth and just before his 24th Birthday in 2007 he received his posting to 152 sqn attached to SASR. He packed up from his home in Toowoomba and headed west with a mission in mind. Sean quickly established himself as a smart allround professional soldier with top electronic warfare skills. Later Sean volunteered for his first tour and he deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 with SOTG V.

It was on this tour just after his Patrol Commander was killed in action Sean received a SOCAUST commendation for excellent application of battlecraft in a complex, dangerous and confusing situation.

Sean on three occasions exposed himself to the direct enemy fire to secure the troops disengagement with the enemy. This event changed Sean and he became more committed to his Army career and Sean was soon deployed again to East Timor in 2008.

Having watched his electronic warfare mates attempting SASR selection and unfortunately missing out, Sean set out on a 12-month plan to be ready for selection. Sean received much support from existing members in his “getting ready” stage. It was his stated goal that after returning from his 2nd tour to Afghanistan  in 2008 he would attempt “selection”. Sadly our Sean lost his life when the vehicle he was traveling in was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device on Tuesday the 8th of July in Urugan Province.

After his passing the RSM of SASR who had been watching Sean during his time in the Regiment stated “We wanted him, he only had to be standing to get through” But sadly he never got his chance. Sean is remembered by both regiments, SASR and 7 Signals Regiment communities. Both units have named awards, streets and buildings in honor of Sean. Of utmost importance, Sean is revered, loved and he is greatly missed by his family.

“His name liveth for evermore”

Lest we forget

After Seans passing we found the following words which for us emulated his character.

“What we have done for ourselves dies with us, what have done for others and the world remains, and is immortal”

A mantel Sean lived with.

From the Inscription of plaque located at Sean McCarthy Way, Toowoomba.

This road was renamed in memory of Sean on the 17th March 2018 with the assistance of the Highfields RSL Sub Branch. It was named Way because Sean used to say there were only two ways of doing things “The Wrong Way or the Sean McCarthy Way. Sean was well respected by his comrades, who say he embodied the essential qualities of courage, boldness, and perseverance that made him such a highly skilled and professional soldier.


Signaller Sean Patrick McCarthy was born on 5 January 1983 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Sean enlisted into the Australian Defence Force on the 10 July 2001. After initial recruit training and completion of mandatory courses, Sean posted to 7 Sig Regiment on 14 July 2003.

Sean posted to SASR on the 15 January 2007 and has been an active member of the Regiment ever since.

Sean’s Operational service includes deploying as part of the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG V) in 2007; Operation Astute in East Timor in 2008 before redeploying to Afghanistan as part of his most recent deployment.

In recognition of his service in East Timor and Afghanistan, Sean was awarded the Australian Active Service Medal with the International Coalition Against Terrorism Clasp and Return from Active Service Badge, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Australian Defence Medal and the NATO ISAF Medal.

Sean was the recipient of a Special Operations Commander Australia (SOCAUST) commendation awarded on the 20 June 2008 for his actions in Afghanistan in 2007 as part of SOTG Rotation V. Sean was awarded this for his excellent application of battle craft in a complex, dangerous and confusing situation.

Sean was an avid rugby union fan. He was a respected member of his Troop and well liked by his colleagues.

Statement from the Minister for Defence

The Minister for Defence, the Hon Joel Fitzgibbon MP, expressed his condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of Signaller Sean McCarthy, who was killed in Afghanistan.

Signaller McCarthy was killed when the vehicle he was travelling in was hit by a roadside bomb.

“This is a tragic day for the Australian Defence Force and, on behalf of the Government I extend my deepest sympathies to the family, colleagues and friends of Signaller McCarthy,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“I also extend my sympathies to the dedicated men and women of the Australian Defence Force who served with Signaller McCarthy.”

“As they carry out this vital work today, it is with Signaller McCarthy’s family and the men and women of the Australian Defence Force that all Australians feel the loss of a comrade fallen in the pursuit of this mission,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
Read statement in full

Special Operations Command Commendation

(Abridged Version)

Signaller Sean McCarthy

I commend you for excellent achievement in the application of battle craft beyond the standard expected whilst acting as a special operations electronic warfare operator during Operation Slipper, Special Operations Task Group, Rotation V.

Despite being in contact with the enemy, you maintained your presence of mind and displayed excellent soldier skills. You showed courage and mission focus.

Your actions demonstrated excellent application of battle craft above your recognised training levels in a complex, dangerous and confusing situation. Your deeds have brought credit upon yourself, the Special Air Service Regiment and Special Operations Command

Dated 18 April 2008