Extended Christmas cheer for Middle East sailors

Published on CPL Mark Doran (author)

Location(s): Manama, Bahrain

(L-R) Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Gemma Casserly and Able Seaman Kelsie Wright, of Combined Task Force 150, based at the Naval Support Activity in Manama, Bahrain, enjoy Christmas care packages sent to the Middle East from students at Mt St Thomas Primary School. (photo: Unknown)
(L-R) Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Gemma Casserly and Able Seaman Kelsie Wright, of Combined Task Force 150, based at the Naval Support Activity in Manama, Bahrain, enjoy Christmas care packages sent to the Middle East from students at Mt St Thomas Primary School.

Royal Australian Navy sailors deployed to the Middle East are still feeling the Christmas joy, thanks to the generosity of students at Mount Saint Thomas Primary School in New South Wales.

The Combined Task Force 150 staff based at the Naval Support Activity in Manama, Bahrain, received care packages from the Mount Saint Thomas Stage 2 students as they learnt about packaging during their school’s Science unit.

While the class was researching how packages moved around the world, the students decided to send care packages to Australian Defence Force personnel deployed away from their family and friends.

Combined Task Force 150 is responsible for counter-terrorism and counter-smuggling operations at sea and is one of several task forces under command of Combined Maritime Forces which undertakes a range of maritime security operations in the Middle East region.

Mount Saint Thomas Stage 2 teacher, Mrs Kelly Judd, said the children did not just learn about packaging during the project.

“They also learnt a life lesson about giving without receiving,” Mrs Judd said.

“We brainstormed ideas and some were very interesting, handballs and bubble-gum were popular ideas from the ten-year-olds.

“The children were enthused they could contribute to something meaningful and also made cards with special messages as they packed their boxes.

“The spirit of Christmas was alive and well in Mt St Thomas.”

Lieutenant Gemma Casserly, is deployed to Bahrain with a team of 20 Australians, including a Defence civilian and an Australian Federal Police officer, and seven Royal Canadian Navy sailors for a five-month deployment.

Lieutenant Casserly said the Task Force staff were over the moon to learn Mount Saint Thomas students were thinking of Australian Defence Force personnel during the Christmas period.

“The care packages lifted our spirits, as it can be a tough time to be away from family,” she said.

“The kids put a lot of thought into their gifts and sent us newspaper comic strips and crosswords.

“We were also delighted to receive Australian products such as Vegemite, Twisties and Caramello Koalas, which aren’t available in Bahrain.”