Lauren Briggs had mixed feelings when she proudly bade her partner, Able Seaman Medic Frank Ojeda, farewell when he left the wharf at Fleet Base East (FBE) last week, as he and his shipmates began their journey to the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) in HMAS Melbourne.
She was sad that her fiancé, and father of her children, was leaving for seven months, but proud that the medical welfare of Melbourne's ship's company was safely in his hands.
AB Ojeda is one of two Medics responsible for the health needs of more than 230 personnel onboard HMAS Melbourne. The team is also supplemented by a doctor for its operational deployment to the MEAO.
AB Ojeda calls Wetherill Park in Sydney's Western Suburbs home. He attended Prairiewood Languages High School and enjoyed Geography and Spanish.
“I joined the Navy in 2006 because I was looking for a change in my life. I definitely wanted a chance to be paid to travel and felt a need to do something worthwhile. That is why I also chose to become a Medic,” he said.
AB Ojeda initially completed 11 weeks of training at the Royal Australian Navy’s Recruit School, followed by nine months of medical training at HMAS Cerberus in Westernport Bay in Victoria. Then, he completed some time at sea to consolidate his skills, followed by an advanced medical assistance course.
AB Ojeda's day to day job involves taking care of the well being of ship's company by providing medical services ranging from basic first aid to advanced life support.
This is his first deployment, and he is looking forward to the challenges it will present, having already been challenged mentally and physically during pre-deployment work-ups.
“I enjoyed seeing how everybody worked and pulled together as a team to pass our assessments, and get the job done. I was especially pleased to use the skills I have learned throughout my Navy career to help get the ship across the line in the work-up scenarios, and be declared ‘ready to deploy’.”
AB Ojeda, having already been awarded his Australian Defence Medal for four years service, will earn an Australian Active Service Medal (ASSM) and an Afghanistan Campaign Medal for his service in the MEAO.
Upon returning to Australian, AB Ojeda is particularly looking forward to taking some leave and spending quality time with his fiancé, Lauren, and children.
Melbourne’s current deployment represents the 56th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990. When she arrives in the region, she will relieve HMAS Newcastle from Operation SLIPPER duties.