Father’s Day in a sandy land abroad

Published on LEUT Peter Croce (author), CPL Janine Fabre (photographer)

Location(s): UAE

Lieutenant Commander Russell Toohey looks at a photo album of his family while serving on Australian Defence Force operations at Al Minhad Air Base, UAE.  (photo: CPL Janine Fabre)
Lieutenant Commander Russell Toohey looks at a photo album of his family while serving on Australian Defence Force operations at Al Minhad Air Base, UAE.

Lieutenant Commander Russell Toohey has a photo album and cardboard box on his desk at Camp Baird that is waiting for Father’s Day and a perfectly timed Skype session to be liberated.

The Operations Logistics Officer for Headquarters Joint Task Force 633 will spend this Fathers Day away from his daughter Emma, 9, and wife Vanessa while deployed to Operation ACCORDION at Al Minhad Air Base, UAE.

The Maritime Logistics Officer joins a long list of Navy fathers deployed to the Middle East Region this year, including dads on HMAS Toowoomba for Operation MANITOU, Operation SLIPPER in Afghanistan and others deployed on ACCORDION. 

This will be his fourth Father’s Day away from home but the use of Skype and email will help fill the void and allow his family to celebrate the day together.

“The box arrived last week and now I am eagerly awaiting Father’s Day morning so I can open it up over Skype and can see what they have got for me,” he said.

“Normally at home we would just be soaking up each other’s company and relaxing in our house as a family unit. 

“My wife Vanessa is a Navy Maritime Logistics Supply Chain senior sailor, so when we are at home together, we know that time is precious and try to make the most of it.

“Skype has been a fantastic tool and every couple of days it has definitely made it easier as face-to-face is so much better than words over the phone – the people deployed on HMAS Toowoomba may be able to do the same.” 

Lieutenant Commander Toohey is one of about 330 personnel deployed on Operation ACCORDION at Al Minhad for the operational mission of providing support to personnel deployed across the broader Middle East Region, including Afghanistan for Operation SLIPPER and Operation MANITOU in the maritime environment.