Three wounded Australian soldiers are in the running to represent the nation in an expedition to the South Pole later this year, announced the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon.
For the first time, the Australian Army will form a Commonwealth team alongside members of the Canadian Army for the South Pole Allied Challenge, run by British-based charity Walking With The Wounded.
“I am pleased to announce that Warrant Officer Class Two Scott Warby, Corporal Seamus Donaghue and Private Heath Jamieson, have been nominated for the final stage of the Walking With The Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge,” Mr Snowdon said.
“This expedition will reinforce to our wounded soldiers that nothing is out of reach as they come through their recovery and rehabilitation.
“This is a great achievement for each of these men and I wish them the very best for the months ahead.”
Mr Snowdon said that in the coming weeks the soldiers will undertake a physically and mentally grueling camp in Iceland, after which two of them will embark on this once-in-a-lifetime expedition to the South Pole.
“The training and preparation they have undertaken so far is a testament to their strength, courage and belief in themselves, and I hope all Australians are as proud of them as I am,” Mr Snowdon said.
A series of training camps and activities throughout the year will culminate for the Commonwealth team in a four-week trek across the Antarctic in December 2013. The soldiers will be required to walk up to 40 kilometres per day in temperatures as low as minus 45 degrees Celsius, pulling sledges weighing in excess of 75 kilograms. They will compete against a team from the United Kingdom and a team from the United States.
Walking With The Wounded co-founder, CEO and Expedition Director, Ed Parker believes the Australian candidates are of the highest calibre.
“When we decided to open up the expedition to nations outside of the United Kingdom, Australia was a clear choice and we are proud to have the Aussies on board,” Mr Parker said.
“The Challenge is about the extraordinary determination and courage of wounded soldiers.”
Walking With The Wounded is supported by charity partners from each participating nation, with Soldier On the Australian charity partner.
“We are thrilled to partner with Walking With The Wounded on the South Pole Allied Challenge,” Soldier On co-founder and CEO, John Bale, said.
“These soldiers are living proof that adversity can be overcome and we are proud to support them in their training and throughout the expedition. We believe they are an inspiration to all Australians.”
The Australian contingent of Warrant Officer Class Two Scott Warby from the Combat Training Centre in Townsville, Corporal Seamus Donaghue from the Soldier Recovery Centre in Brisbane and Private Heath Jamieson from the 2nd Commando Regiment in Sydney are currently preparing for the last stage of selection, a cold weather training camp in Iceland in March, after which the final two participants will be chosen.
Following the training camp in Iceland, the two successful Australian members will complete Commonwealth team and individual training throughout the year, before embarking on the expedition to the Antarctic. The member not selected will be the ‘first reserve’ in the event of injury or illness of other members.
Minister’s Snowdon’s Office: Marcus Butler (02) 6277 7820 or 0417 917 796
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999