‘I shed a tear as I marched on’
AFTER completing his HSC in 2018, Charles Charlton was eager to find the same kind of discipline he had while studying in his life after school. It wasn't long before he found it with the Australian Army.
"I joined because I wanted a sense of purpose, direction and, most importantly, to test me both mentally and physically," he said.
Earlier this year, the former Maclean High School student completed Army bootcamp at Kapooka, southwest of Wagga Wagga with dreams of first being posted to the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment in Darwin.
"The morning I left was like every other morning at home: two poached eggs, yoghurt and oats for breakfast, except that it was 3am," he said.
"My family helped pack my luggage in the car, I said my goodbyes to the house, kissed my dog on the forehead and got on the road to the Gold Coast."
Once arriving at the defence recruiting centre, Charles pledged his allegiance to Her Majesty, the Queen and our country and headed south to Kapooka.
"At Kapooka you really get the Army's core values drilled into your head from day dot," he said.
"The courage to be resilient and always act with integrity; initiative to do the hard right over the easy left; respect for the rank and everyone you come across; and most importantly, teamwork.
"You become family with the people who stand across from you in the hallway. You're all new to the game regardless of skin, age and gender, you're going to experience the same hardships so why not support each other.
"I lived under a tarp out bush with a retired Russian UFC fighter for a week and now we're the best of mates."
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At the end of the 12-week recruitment program, Charles was proud of himself for what he had achieved. However, he was disappointed he couldn't share this milestone with family during the graduation ceremony.
"Unfortunately, our families couldn't be there to watch due to COVID," he said.
"We marched onto the parade ground with the band playing and our heads held high.
"I shed a tear as I marched on."
Now a graduate of the Kapooka recruitment training and currently in the next stage of his Army career, Charles said that for anyone thinking of joining, it was important to make a full commitment both mentally and physically.
"You have to understand you're making a sacrifice for the better," he said.
"So have an open mind 24/7, give it your all and then some, and have the will to win, always."