Crystal Brook veteran Daniel Hatton served in Afganistan.
Crystal Brook veteran Daniel Hatton served in Afganistan. Monique Preston

FRONT LINE LIFE: 'You'd have people's lives in your hands'

WITH a job that involved searching for bombs in front of every Australian convoy that left his base in Afghanistan, Daniel Hatton put his life at risk just about every day for the six months he was stationed there in 2012.

Using metal detectors to search for roadside bombs and improvised explosives devices (IEDs), Mr Hatton and his command would walk in front of all convoys to clear the road for them.

It was a mission that was a dangerous one, both for the Crystal Brook resident, and for those under his command as a section commander.

He was aged 23.

"It was very important that if we moved vehicles or people, we knew the area had been searched," Mr Hatton said.

"You'd have people's lives in your hands and you had to make a decision, and people's lives were at risk," he said.

 

Daniel Hatton (second from right) and his team conducting a route search in front of a convoy looking for improvised explosive devices.
Daniel Hatton (second from right) and his team conducting a route search in front of a convoy looking for improvised explosive devices. Contributed

One mission that stands out in his mind was a day his group came across four IED's within 200m.

The Afgan National Army engineers were being mentored by the Australian Army at the time to be trained into taking over many of the duties in their country.

One of the Afgan soldiers in the group was excavating an IED when it detonated - killing him immediately.

"There were multiple incidents like that that you came across," Mr Hatton said.

There were also multiple contacts with the enemy.

However, that was where the Army training came into place, he said.

"It's amazing what the body can do.

"Army training... is to break you down as an individual and build you up as the solider they want you to be.

"Once those bullets start flying, you have to respond."

 

TIME FOR REMEMBRANCE: Veteran Daniel Hatton with a plastic mould of the gun he used while in the Australian Army in Afganistan. It is now on display at Proserpine RSL.
TIME FOR REMEMBRANCE: Veteran Daniel Hatton with a plastic mould of the gun he used while in the Australian Army in Afganistan. It is now on display at Proserpine RSL. Monique Preston

Mr Hatton remembers one occasion when his men were sitting about 10 metres apart when they heard gunfire.

"I don't remember getting to cover. The training just kicked in," he said.

Mr Hatton was stationed in Afghanistan from June 2012 to late November 2012.

During that time, several Australian soldiers were killed - including Lance Corporal Stjepan 'Rick' Milosevic, Sapper James Martin and Private Robert Poate - who were shot while playing a poker game by an Afgan National Army soldier.

Mr Hatton still wears a bracelet with the three men's names engraved on it as a way of remembering them.

"It (the bracelet) shows the spirit of the Australian digger - when playing poker, they were all from different corps... They all got along together as mates."

While not in the same area at the time, Mr Hatton had helped with Sapper Martin's lead-up training for deployment to Afghanistan.

"The part I had to deal with, was I held a bit of remorse over his death," Mr Hatton said.

"But no training could have stopped what had happened - which was challenging."

On the same day, another two commandos died in a helicopter crash.

 

Daniel Hatton takes a break after the clearance of the Tangi Valley in Afganistan in 2012.
Daniel Hatton takes a break after the clearance of the Tangi Valley in Afganistan in 2012. Contributed

On Monday, Mr Hatton will especially remember these men as he pauses for a minute's silence at Proserpine's Remembrance Day service.

"It (the day) is to remember mates you served alongside overseas who made the ultimate sacrifice and didn't come home," he said.

As a veteran who served eight-and-a-half years in the Army before being medically discharged in 2012, Mr Hatton said he would like to see members of the public pause on Monday to remember those who fought for their country.

"It doesn't matter if they are in the office, at home or out - it would be great if they pause and reflect on the sacrifices people made for the country."

Proserpine's Remembrance Day service will be held on Monday, November 11, at the Proserpine cenotaph outside the old Proserpine Entertainment Centre in Main St, starting at 10.45am. Everyone is invited to attend.


Lightning strikes behind five bushfires

Lightning strikes behind five bushfires

This is the full list of Queensland bushfire alerts and evacuations

Market makes happy return 'home'

premium_icon Market makes happy return 'home'

Market move an overwhelming success.

PHOTOS: Ready to party at Schoolies in Airlie Beach

premium_icon PHOTOS: Ready to party at Schoolies in Airlie Beach

The week-long celebrations have started.