Chris Gooch
Chris Gooch Corporal Chris Moore

Lismore soldier flies home after stint in Timor

GOONELLABAH mother Sue Gooch is looking forward to seeing her son Chris when he flies back into Australia tonight after a four-month stint in East Timor.

Twenty-eight-year-old Chris Gooch has been in the Australian army for seven years and got his first overseas posting on the day of the assassination attempt on the president, José Ramos-Horta.

"Of course I was worried, I'm his mother", Mrs Gooch said.

"I'm proud of what he does, but also apprehensive and nervous about what can happen".

Chris Gooch is a member of the Fifth Aviation Regiment with the rank of Trooper and works on Black Hawk helicopters.

"In East Timor, I am my helicopter's loadmaster, which means I provide ground clearances and aircraft performance data to pilots and operate the rescue winch.

"If necessary, I am also the door gunner for aircraft protection," he said.

"Our unit's job in Timor-Leste is aerial overwatch of ground operations, aero-medical evacuation if needed, and transport of stores and troops around the country."

Trooper Gooch said there was a military tradition in the family, with his grandfather David Patterson having fought on the Kokoda Trail in the-then New Guinea.

"Timor has been a good build-up in the way of training for me. I would like the opportunity to work in Afghanistan in the future," he said.

Mrs Gooch said a lot of the work the Trooper had been doing was community-based and humanitarian work.

They do flights for Timorese people who have an illness or injury  similar to the Westpac rescue helicopter here, she said.

Trooper Gooch said he had loved his time in Timor and the Timorese people.

"I love my job. We get to see the whole country from the air, whereas the ground troops usually only see one part," he said.

Trooper Gooch has been living in a converted shipping container and is looking forward to reuniting with his wife Jan and their two children Ava, aged two, and eleven-month-old Charlie.

Trooper Gooch is one of about 760 Australian Defence Force personnel currently serving in Timor-Leste as part of Operation Astute, the Federal Government's response to the Timorese Government's request for assistance in restoring stability to the country.

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