Comrades in arms: Aleasha uses Anzac Day to reflect on time in the military

AS a young woman, Aleasha Clinghan witnessed the horrors of war.

On Anzac Day, to remember six of her comrades who died in 2010 in Afghanistan, she proudly wore a a black wristband bearing the names of her deceased fellow soldiers, along with her service medals .

She recalled her first experience of leaving the safety of the base in Iraq on her first tour of overseas duty.

“The first time I went outside the wire I remember feeling on edge,” she said.

But underlying that fear was the motivation to get the job done she had been sent overseas to do.

“It is our job after all - so you just to keep going and get on with it," she said.

However the images of seeing some of her colleagues find out their friends had been killed was tough, as were the ceremonies to repatriate the bodies of the fallen back to Australia.

“To see them so overwhelmed with grief and break down is hard,” she said.

“It is our job after all - so you just to keep going and get on with it"

Ms Clinghan has returned to civilian life after a deployment to Iraq in 2006 and a second overseas service in 2007, with eight years all up in the Australian Defence Force.

“At first I was scared about getting out of the army. I had been there all up for eight years after going in at 17,” she said.

Working as a pump operator for a fracking company she says she is settling in relatively well to civilian life.

“But there are some of the guys who I know aren’t," she said.

“One of them is really struggling and needs a companion dog to go everywhere with him."

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After service in both Afghanistan and Iraq, Ms Clinghan says she has mixed feelings about Australia’s commitment to the overseas conflicts.

“I know when we leave the Taliban are just going to completely take over again,” she said.

She says her visits to the schools in Iraq and Afghanistan to interact with children are strong memories.

“I just feel so sorry for the women and children in these places and the situation they are in,” she said.

Ms Clinghan is the granddaughter of former Orange RSL executive member, the late Norm Clinghan.

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