Mercenary Mum: My Journey from Young Mother to Baghdad Bodyguard

Read Mercenary Mum: My Journey from Young Mother to Baghdad Bodyguard for Free Online

Book: Read Mercenary Mum: My Journey from Young Mother to Baghdad Bodyguard for Free Online
Authors: Neryl Joyce
was anticipation in the air. We dressed carefully and inspected each other for faults. We had to be particular about our appearance and ensure our mates were also immaculately presented. We filed through the armoury to get our weapons, then lined up in three ranks to await inspection. Harty picked over my uniform one last time. I had to be perfect. We all had to be perfect. We were Australia’s newest soldiers.
    Satisfied that we were up to scratch, Harty took command and marched us down to the parade ground. The spectator stands were full. It wasn’t just our female platoon marching out today; there were also four male platoons. I was excited and happy to be leaving. I knew that I had achieved something great. Physical fitness was my biggest challenge, but I had overcome my weaknesses and passed. I knew I deserved this day, although I was a little disappointed not to be able to share it with my family.
    It was about 28 degrees Celsius on the day of our graduation in April that year, but on the hot bitumen parade ground, it felt about 40 degrees. During the ceremony everyone was sweating profusely. The girl standing next to me, Smithy, leant over and whispered, “Joycee, I think I am going to pass out.” Oh, no , I thought. We weren’t even halfway through the parade. We still had to stand at attention for some time yet; there were many more speeches to listen to. I had to keep Smithy on her feet. There are not many things that are more embarrassing for a soldier than passing out on parade, especially when it’s your own graduation.
    Smithy started to sway. “Wriggle your toes and take deep breaths,” I whispered to her. It was the standard thing to say, but I hoped it would keep her upright. For the rest of the parade I did my best ventriloquist act. I didn’t want to be obvious about talking on parade (a big no-no), but there was no way I was going to let her fall. After all the moral support and encouragement my mates had given me during those harsh physical training sessions, the least I could do was to stop Smithy from fainting on parade. I whispered all kinds of stuff to her. I tried to keep her focused on what I was saying, quite a feat when you can’t move your lips.
    Smithy made it through all the speeches and got her composure back once we started marching around the parade ground one final time. At the end of the ceremony, we headed over to the boozer for a barbecue and drinks with the families. A few of us congregated at a small table to down Southern Comforts and Coke. We were the orphans, the ones with no family or friends present. We consoled each other over numerous drinks and shared horror stories about our time as recruits.
    Smithy came over later that day and bought me a drink. She thanked me several times for talking to her on parade and stopping her from fainting. She then told me that her mother wanted to know why the girl standing next to her daughter had talked the whole way through the parade. I guess I was no ventriloquist after all!
    The rest of the day was a haze. I went to bed early that night. I had packed up all my kit and was ready to leave the next day for my next lot of army training: I’d be attending a dental assistant course. I’d be the only one from my platoon; the rest were going off to be army medics, truckies and clerks. I don’t know how I ended up choosing that course. Who joins the army to be a dental assistant? I wanted to do all the cool stuff I’d seen soldiers do in action movies, but was instead destined to suck the slag out of people’s mouths.
    The next morning I walked outside my building to where four buses were lined up. They’d be taking all the newly promoted privates to the sites of their initial employment training: technical schools in Puckapunyal and Portsea in Victoria. I waved goodbye to my friends and watched the buses until they disappeared around the corner. It was hard watching everyone leave.
    I was left standing alone. My employment training

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