Soldiers from the 3rd Combat Support Battalion (3 CSSB) on December 5 marched through Innisfail in north Queensland to mark the 15th anniversary of the battalion being granted Freedom of Entry to the town.

It was a momentous occasion for the 200 soldiers and the town’s community

Freedom of Entry was granted to 3 CSSB in 2006 for its support of the town during Cyclone Larry.

Commanding Officer 3 CSSB Lieutenant Colonel Steven Young recalled the day of the cyclone when the battalion rapidly deployed 260km north to Innisfail to provide medical care, support clean-up efforts, and supply kitchen and bathroom facilities to assist the community.

“Whenever we get the chance to help the community, whether it be overseas or at home, it means an awful lot,” Lieutenant Colonel Young said.

“It’s the reason most of us join the Army.”

With the north Queensland region on high alert during the annual high-risk weather season, Lieutenant Colonel Young said the parade was an opportunity to further enhance the historic relationship between the battalion and community.

“They put on a great turnout for us,” Lieutenant Colonel Young said.

“It was a great feeling to march off parade, not only to the band, but to the claps of the crowd. It felt fantastic.”

Warrant Officer Class 1 Doug Ward pins the 3rd Combat Service Support Battalion’s first theatre honour in recognition for its contributions to East Timor to the battalion’s colours during the Freedom of Entry parade in Innisfail. Photo: Sergeant Andrew Sleeman

Because of its strong ties with the town, 3 CSSB chose to be awarded its first theatre honours in front of the community, which was a significant milestone in the battalion’s history.

The battalion was recognised for its efforts during operations in East Timor and Iraq.

“The Australian Army is a reflection of its community, and the people of Innisfail show enormous resilience, which is a key quality that an Army needs to show at all time,” Lieutenant Colonel Young said.

“So it was wonderful to be awarded our first theatre honours here.”

Acknowledging the battalion’s history, theatre honour streamers were pinned to the battalion’s colours by Warrant Officer Class 1 Doug Ward, who served as a member of the battalion in East Timor, and Mark Campbell, a former 3 CSSB regimental sergeant major who served in Iraq.

Command support clerk Corporal Kristelle Elton represented the new generation of soldiers.

Corporal Elton was participating in her first Freedom of Entry parade and said she was humbled to be part of the ceremony celebrating her unit’s history.

“It certainly was an emotional time for all involved,” Corporal Elton said.

“My dad served in East Timor and discharged just last week, so to be able to watch the theatre honours being awarded really hit home to me.

“I think we all feel so honoured to be part of a battalion that has had such a significant effect on Innisfail.

“Seeing everyone here clapping us, it was honestly an amazing feeling.”

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