Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral (RADM) Tim Barrett recently presented a US Army Commendation Medal to Petty Officer Glen Petersen at HMAS Kuttabul for his meritorious service in Afghanistan last year.
The Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diver earned the recognition of Lieutenant General Mark Milley of the United States Army during a unique deployment in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
“Petty Officer Petersen’s outstanding performance, expertise, and dedication to duty greatly contributed to the success of the Unit’s mission,” stated the commendation from LTGEN Milley.
Embedded within the United States military contingent, PO Petersen served as the Triage Manager of the Afghanistan Captured Material Exploitation (ACME) Lab in Kandahar.
A long way from his Hervey Bay home in Queensland, PO Petersen guaranteed the protection and safety of laboratory personnel in Afghanistan and was responsible for ensuring that evidence coming in from the battlefield was free from explosive hazards and safe for exploitation.
He was also responsible for the safe storage, transportation, and disposal of all explosive and chemical samples, hazardous Improvised Explosive Device (IED) components and commercial explosive materials.
PO Petersen shared how an Australian Clearance Diver found himself posted within a US Navy contingent in Afghanistan.
“Most people look and ask what a diver is doing over there,” said the 42 year old, “but the US guys I was working with were Navy mine and countermeasure divers as well.
“To be able to understand and do our Explosive Ordnance Disposal job underwater, we have to be able to do it on the surface first.”
PO Petersen was grateful for the opportunity to take his Navy training into a real environment.
“Part of my job there was to brief teams coming in on what sort of items were around the area and what we were expecting,” he said.
“Everything we worked with was as real as it gets, and my number one responsibility was to try to make people safe.”
Since returning from Afghanistan late last year, PO Petersen now utilises his skills as an Instructor at Defence Establishment Orchard Hills.
“I’ve come to the tri-service school, with my Navy background and now Afghanistan experience behind me to teach Army and Air Force,” the Queenslander said.
“It’s good to have real life experience behind you so you can refer back, instead of saying this is what I know, I can now say this is what I’ve done and I can tell you for a fact because I’ve seen this in a war zone.
“Overall, the experience I had over there and the knowledge that I got off the US guys was incredible, it was the best experience of my career.”