Journey to honour US Marine grandfather
When Flight Lieutenant Paul Koser deployed on his first exercise to Cope North in Guam, he was thrilled to discover it was nearby the very place his grandfather, U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Robert ‘Bob’ Fishinger, fought in the Battle of Saipan during the Asiatic Pacific War in 1944.
One of four Marianas Islands used for the CN20 Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) scenario, Saipan was used as part of the Pacific campaign of World War II from June 15 to July 9, 1944.
Some 76 years later, modern day warfare and like-minded nations, Australia, the US and Japan, were brought together to train in support for the cause of freedom around world.
CN20 Multinational Task Force OPSO, Flight Lieutenant Koser, said integrating functions made the team stronger and more efficient to execute a successful HADR event.
“Working in a trilateral HQ environment has been a great experience, everyone has been very helpful and focused on achieving the same outcome,” Flight Lieutenant Koser said.
“We’ve been concentrating on the way we do business with each other to better integrate processes so we come together seamlessly for future operations.
“Information sharing has been a big improvement this year and by the end of the exercise, we became a highly functional tri-nation team.”
While in Guam, with a helping hand from USAF C-12 aircraft and crew, he flew to Saipan to pay respects to his grandfather.
“I was a bit too young to remember hearing his war stories,” Flight Lieutenant Koser said.
“But once I found out that I was going to Cope North, I was hoping to have the opportunity to connect my family history to my military career.
“I’ve got a new appreciation of the conditions he faced and how challenging it would have been.
“Being able to walk in his footsteps, lay a wreath and learn more about the battle that shaped history, has been an incredible experience.
“He was inspiration for joining the military, I really looked up to him and his military achievements and honours.
“I feel so proud to be able to continue my family’s military history.”
Flight Lieutenant Nick Kither, Detachment Commander (DETCO) Regional Interface Control Cell – Deployed (RICC-D) for CN20, formed the team located at Saipan managing the data links for the air combat element of the exercise.
“During each mission, we supported the USAF CN20 Joint Interface Control Officer (JICO) in providing Tactical Data Link connectivity to CN20 participants as a ground relay station,” Flight Lieutenant Kither said.
“We also provided Link 16 network as directed by the CN20 JICO to ensure efficient and effective use by network participants.
“The exercise is the premier training event for ADF JICC operators and Interface Control Officers (ICOs) to develop their advanced skills and exercise the deployment of the RICC-D system.
“Saipan is the most advantageous position to conduct these duties from due to the location of the CN20 airspace.
When his team heard about the purpose of Flight Lieutenant Koser’s visit, they were determined to help him to see the important significant sites.
“We asked our U.S. mates if a USMC member could be present to represent his grandfather’s unit.
“It was a great honour to support Paul during his visit to Saipan, he was able to visit the American Memorial Park to read about the events his grandfather was involved in prior to laying a wreath at the Saipan memorial.”