Defence Minister Senator David Johnston met Army Reserve soldiers during a dinner at Irwin Barracks, Karrakatta, Western Australia last night to recognise the rich history of one of Western Australia’s iconic infantry battalions.
Speaking to members of the 16th Battalion, The Royal Western Australia Regiment (16 RWAR) at their annual Cameron Supper, Senator Johnston praised the troops’ commitment to the nation and thanked them for the opportunity to learn about the nature of Reserve service.
“Part-time soldiers are ‘twice the citizen’ making a contribution in both their military and civilian employment. Reservists also play a key role in the modern Australian Army with troops from Irwin Barracks deployed to the Solomon Islands on five occasions in as many years,” he said.
Senator Johnston said it was important as Defence Minister he acknowledge the contribution and service provided by members of the Army because even with modern equipment and sophisticated technology, the soldier is the basis of operational success.
“You are the heirs to two great generations of soldiers from both World Wars who volunteered to protect our nation and our way of life. You continue the tradition of service witnessed in Gallipoli, the Western Front, the Middle East and Kokoda,” he said.
The Commanding Officer of 16 RWAR, Lieutenant Colonel Rhogan Aitken said it was an honour to have Senator Johnston as principal guest of the Battalion known as the ‘Cameron Highlanders of Western Australia’.
“My feeling is one of pride in our people and our history. We retain the Cameron link through one of our rifle companies and we are the only unit in the Australian Army permitted to wear the highland bonnet,” Lieutenant Colonel Aitken said.
The Cameron Supper is 16 RWAR’s major dining function and honours the Battalion’s 77 year Cameron Highlander heritage.
Rebecca Horton (Minister Johnston’s Office): 0427 449 120
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999