An Cosantóir

Dec 2018 Jan 2019

An Cosantóir the official magazine of the Irish Defence Forces and Reserve Defence Forces.

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Page 45 of 47

An Cosantóir Dec 2018/Jan 2019 46 | AUSTIN COLLINS AIR CORPS/DCOS OPS DRIVER CORPORAL BY SGT PAUL MILLAR A ustin 'Aussie' Collins joined 1 Air Defence Regt (FCÁ) when he was 16 to get a taste of military life. "With a brother already in the army, a life in the military was al- ways in the back of my mind, but my FCÁ experience confirmed it," he says. On his 17th birthday in 1978, Aussie enlisted in Cathal Brugha Bks and remembers how different the process was back then: "You signed some forms, completed a medical and were sworn-in." Passing-out as 'Best Soldier', ("one of the proudest moments of my life"), Aussie was posted to 6 Arty Regt in Magee Bks, Kildare Town where he got to grips with the 25-pdr before be- ing selected for a signals operators course. The sigs course secured Aussie his first overseas trip, with 45 Inf Bn, at the age of 18. "It was a tough trip for everyone," Aussie says, "but I learned a lot about myself." He returned to Lebanon not long after, with 50 Inf Bn which he says was another tough trip. After seven years with the Arty Corps, Aussie transferred to No 5 Support Wing, Air Corps, where he upskilled his driving credentials to include artic, coach, truck and trailer. He put his new skills into practice with 63 Inf Bn, UNIFIL, and in Somalia with 1 Tpt Coy, UNISOM 2, which provided logistics support to the various contingents. "Somalia was completely different to the Leb." he recalls. "There was always a very real sense of danger there, but we trusted our officers and NCOs, and despite the tension there was a comfort in knowing we were well trained; we had to be - we had Australian weapons, drove French trucks and initially wore US DPM uniform." At home Aussie has an extensive involve- ment with charities that began with a driving detail in support of an Air Corps-supported charity called Cheshire Adventure Motivation Project (CAMP), which provides support to people with physical and neurological conditions. Aussie saw the work behind the scenes and began to volunteer. This work led to Aussie assisting physically challenged young adults to participate in the Empire State Games in New York for over 10 years. These Games also offer the op- portunity for participants to get specialist treatments only available in America. Currently, Aussie volunteers at Cara Cheshire Home in the Phoenix Park. Aussie's commitment to charity has not gone unnoticed. He was nominated by the residents of CAMP and given the Unsung Hero Award by the Lord Mayor of Dublin. During his time in the Air Corps Aussie was involved in the recovery operations for Rescue 111, the Air Corps Dauphin heli- copter that crashed in dense fog after successfully completing a rescue mission in 1999, with the loss of all four crew, and for Pilatus PC-9M 265. "These were very difficult times," Aussie says, "particularly as the Air Corps is such a tight-knit unit so we all knew those involved personally." Aussie eventually found himself as driver to GOC Air Corps, Brig Gen Ralph James. When Brig Gen James became DCOS Ops and moved to DFHQ, Aussie moved as well, and he still drives for the current DCOS Ops, Maj Gen Kieran Brennan. Speaking about the job, Aussie says: "It's a mix of driving, se- curity detail and admin. With the DCOS being so busy, so am I. I'm on the road early and at the end of the day there's still the routine cleaning and admin required for the car. And that's not in- cluding route and location recces and the time it takes to memorise routes. "I take pride in what I do: making everything presentable and func- tional, and getting 'the Boss' there on time. The job requires a flexible home life, so it's not for everyone, but I get enormous job satisfaction from it." Of his recent meritorious promo- tion to corporal Aussie says: "I was stunned. I went up to collect some boxes as an airman and came down a corporal; it was a complete surprise."

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