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A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

- 120 – All that done

- 120 – All that done we began the setup. Surprisingly, the main dining area was brilliantly well appointed. A great cook and a few homely touches like footy posters, movie posters and other posters (no surprises for guessing) and a Christmas tree and some lights helped us to feel at home. So we got to it. Angry Anderson is one of the most outgoing and friendly people I have ever met; so his warmth and friendship was well received. As best as we tried, we failed in getting these hard core Aussie soldiers up dancing; however, they all loved and appreciated the music we played. We had the opportunity to go to the top floor for a viewing of Baghdad city. The body armour, helmet and weapon added about 30kgs to our weight so by the time we got to the top we were all a little red faced. A stark contrast to the chisel jawed soldiers leading the way. We were given a clear picture of our position and could see all the major infrastructure of the city. By the end of the evening we were all well and truly worn out so it was off to sleep (by the way, it was freezing!). All things going well until I stirred to some strange sounds. It took me only a few seconds to work it out though; gun fire, and lots of it. Solid machine gun fire followed by massive blasts and a sort of loud coughing sound. We could feel the shock waves. I was scared ……..! It sounded like it was outside the building. No time for heroics. I stayed tightly in my spot with my sleeping bag pulled up to my chin, silently listening with awe, fear and excitement. I later found out that Chief Petty Officer Stapleton was doing the same thing; too scared to talk but unable to stop listening, totally awestruck. The next morning we found out that the fighting lasted about two hours and was about four kilometres away. Most of the noise came from a C130 spectre gun ship. Basically, it’s a Hercules gunship with massive weapons. My impressions of these Aussie soldiers on the front line are hard to describe; but pride, admiration and complete respect go some way towards it. And remember these are Aussies; so their mateship and humour was present in abundance. Our next duty was to return to Baghdad International Airport; so it was movements’ briefs, combat protective armour and loaded weapons into the ASLAV and 120 kph through the city. Upon return we began setting up for another performance. We were joined by ‘Kintama’ (a civilian rock group) and basically rocked the place. Everyone loved it. Angry was masterful and the line for a photo with the little guy was huge. After that gig we boarded the ASLAVs again and made our way to Australia Island. We met with the rest of the touring party, exchanged stories, and you guessed it, started to set up for another gig; and oh what a night it turned out to be. GOOD MORNING VIETNAM Article by Able Seaman Sharon Jarvis On 2 October 2003, seven musicians from the Sydney detachment flew out of Sydney to join HMAS Tobruk in Darwin for a two-month deployment "up top". The embarked ensemble consisted of Chief Petty Officer Stapleton, Able Seamen Tatnell, Mildren, Solecki, and Jarvis, and Seamen Bradshaw and Riseley. For some it was not only their first taste of life at sea, but also their first time out of Australia. We arrived in Darwin and once on board Tobruk organised our messing arrangements, secured the equipment for sea and then, as only one would do, proceeded ashore to soak up the ambience of what is a great city before sailing the following morning. First stop Singapore! The first week saw us take on the role of "Super Cafe Party", experience the joy of the "DCX”, squeeze in rehearsals in our own little classroom down on the tank deck and witness the ancient ritual according to the laws of the deep, THE CROSSING OF THE LINE CEREMONY!!! There were three musicians that were initiated—Seaman Riseley, Seaman Bradshaw and Able Seaman Solecki. The rest of us looked on, had a good laugh and provided some musical accompaniment. Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

- 121 – On the second morning at sea, Seaman Riseley commenced playing wakey-wakey, receiving many favourable comments from all on board and was inundated with requests. On arrival in Singapore we were informed that there were no official functions, so unfortunately we had to hit the road and do our part in kicking along the local economy!! To top it off, our departure from Singapore was delayed a day due to an unspecified administrative complication, but luckily there was much to do to pass 24 hours. Life is good!!! The morning of departure we soon came to realise how quickly your day can change when you are a musician at sea. As we were in company with HMAS Arunta, and being a day behind schedule, it was suggested that we get ourselves and our equipment onto Arunta, as she would make better time to Bangkok where we needed to be for the Beat to Quarters and Ceremonial Sunset. Great thinking, but definitely hard work when they add that you have only 15 minutes to do so! Of course we rose to the challenge and before we knew it we were aboard and heading for Thailand. We commenced rehearsals for the Ceremonial Sunset and before we knew it, the morning of arrival was upon us. Due to an increase in security, forced protection was in place and Seaman Bradshaw and Able Seaman Tatnell volunteered to do a watch. They certainly looked the part decked out with kevlar helmet, flack jacket, two way radio and steyr!! Their contribution was greatly appreciated by the Seaman department. The evening’s performance of Beat to Quarters and Ceremonial Sunset was very well received and many favourable comments were made. We then disembarked Arunta, moved back onboard Tobruk and proceeded to explore Bangkok, "The City of Angels". The day of departure saw yet another change in our routine. It was decided that the group would play on the flight deck of Arunta for arrival in Ho Chi Minh City, so we packed up and headed back to our second home, the hangar on board Arunta. It pays to remain flexible and keep ones sense of humour at all times! At last the day arrived that everyone was looking forward to—entry to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). To say that this was the most enjoyed port visit is an understatement. It was a great visit, fantastic people with a fascinating culture, and the shopping was incredible. Ho Chi Minh was also to be the port where we had many high-profile commitments due to the Maritime Commander being present and the response from everyone was overwhelming. The detachment did an outstanding job, covering commitments from the Maritime Commander’s Official Reception and Ceremonial Sunset, playing at a volleyball match between the Vietnamese Navy and the Aussie crew, and a primary school commitment that whipped the local children into a frenzy. The last day in port gave everyone a chance to snap up many of the bargains on offer. It was agreed that Ho Chi Minh was a favourite for everybody. All good things must come to an end though and before we knew it, we were back on the high seas and back on Tobruk - destination Fremantle. During the two-week passage back to Australia the ship held its concert, which saw the embarked ensemble provide musical support to over seven acts. A big BZ to Able Seaman Solecki and Chief Petty Officer Stapleton for the time taken to write out the charts for the numerous acts. It was a terrific evening for all and a huge success. From Fremantle we headed down to Adelaide. Able Seaman Tatnell, Seaman Riseley and Seaman Bradshaw joined in with the South Australian detachment for a two-hour performance, coincidentally down at Port Adelaide right where the ship berthed; their efforts greatly appreciated. Hobart was our last stop. There was one more commitment, that being the Senior Sailors/Senior Non Commissioned Officers Cocktail Party. There was one slight problem however - we did not have a drummer as Able Seaman Mildren departed in Fremantle due to personal issues. Luckily, the newly promoted Petty Officer Musician Paul Parnell was more than happy to fill in and a great night was had by all. Thanks Paul for doing an outstanding job. Great to see that you have still got it! Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

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