From Bulli to Qargha
Old friends, Brigadier Ed Smeaton and Private Conar Partridge, have been reunited at Camp Qargha in Kabul, Afghanistan, during their deployment to Operation Highroad.
Task Group Afghanistan Commander, Brigadier Smeaton, has known Private Partridge’s parents, Mitch and Karen, for 37 years – Mitch Partridge and Brigadier Smeaton were in the same year at Bulli High School in New South Wales.
“Private Partridge’s father and I both joined the local Army Cadet Unit together and later the Army,” Brigadier Smeaton said.
“I headed off to the Royal Military College – Duntroon, in Canberra, becoming an officer within the Corps of Royal Australian Electrical Mechanical Engineers. Mitch went off to Kapooka in New South Wales to become a combat engineer.”
Private Partridge, a Guardian Angel serving with Force Protection Element Rotation 13, said his father stayed in touch with Brigadier Smeaton over the years, catching up when possible.
“I remember when I was eight-years-old, Brigadier Smeaton came for a visit and gave me a sticker from the unit he was posted to at the time,” Private Partridge said.
“I haven’t seen him in a couple years though. The last time we saw each other I was still in high school about to enlist in the Army.
“I’m lucky to see him here in Afghanistan and I’m privileged to serve knowing he is my senior Australian commander.”
Brigadier Smeaton said he knows that Private Partridge’s family was proud of him joining the Army and to now be serving on operations.
“It’s also nice for me to see someone I know when I am so far from home,” Brigadier Smeaton said.
“Despite not being able to shake hands due to social distancing as a result of COVID-19, Conar and I adapted with an elbow tap to formally acknowledge our family history.”