The army got him outside

Brad Clarke will reflect on past Anzacs this Anzac Day. 166700

By Justin Flynn

Brad Clarke joined the army in 1978 as a wide-eyed 18-year-old so he could avoid working in his father’s business and to “get outside and do stuff”.
Almost 40 years later, the Ocean Grove father of 15-year-old twin girls is reflecting on a tour to Iraq and the fact that his unit, The Light Horse Regiment, was the same as the famous 1917 charge of 500 Australians on Beersheba.
Brad was the Regimental Sergeant Major for the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment in Iraq, which had direct links to the Australian Mounted Division in the Battle of Beersheba, which is commemorating its 100th anniversary later this year.
“It was full on,” Brad recalled of his experience in Iraq, in which he was in charge of minimising roadside explosive attacks and rocket attacks on Coalition forces.
“When I got there it was November, so it was cool and muddy for a few months, but then after that it was 55 (degrees) every day and with body armour and helmets, that was pretty rough. It was intense and always busy and a big eye-opener. I was humbled and proud of the commitment and dedication of Australian troops. There was always that concern that at any moment on patrol you could get hit by something, but they way we operated in Iraq, I had confidence in the way we were operating compared to the insurgents.”
Brad’s forces were able to reduce the flow of attacks from 20 roadside ambushes per month to three.
In Iraq, Brad organised for Essendon and Collingwood AFL clubs to send guernseys over, which were then put to use in a game played between the Diggers who were there.
“The AFL asked us to film it and they played it on the big screen at the game,” he said.
“It was good for morale.”
Brad’s reflection every Anzac Day is one of pride. His father fought in WWII and his grandfather in WWI.
“It’s not just about remembering my service, but all the people who came before me,” he said.
“Especially the younger generation are showing real respect and understanding.”
This Anzac Day, Brad’s schedule will involve getting up at 4.30am and helping to organise the dawn service at Ocean Grove Park. He’ll then go home after the ceremony for an hour or so and help organise the main service, where he is a guest speaker, getting there around 9am. He’ll find time to head to the bowling club for an hour or two and head home to watch the Collingwood vs Essendon game.