An army life well travelled for Bendigo man

GREG Westhead was born and raised in Bendigo but has travelled across the globe in his role with the Australian army. 

Mr Westhead joined the army in 1974 but after three years of service decided to leave. 

After doing odd jobs around Bendigo, he realised he wanted to go back in the army and 35 years later he is still serving his country. 

Mr Westhead said he had been posted all over Australia and joked that his first big overseas trip was to Tasmania in 1999. 

“It was post-Vietnam, and not many groups were sent overseas after that,” he said. 

Mr Westhead was then picked to go on an exchange with the British Army. 

“So I went to England for six months and was then sent to the Bosnia conflict for three months,” he said. 

“I came back from there and did a variety of postings and promotions, and ended up as a regimental sergeant in charge of the military police.”

Mr Westhead said in 2005 – to his wife’s disgust – he was asked to go to Iraq. 

“I said to her, ‘just let me go on this one’ and she said yes,” he said. 

Mr Westhead said after more than 20 years of service he had only been to Bosnia and he wanted to experience what it was like overseas. 

“It was like being a highly competitive football player and sitting on the bench all your life,” he said. 

“I know that sounds ridiculous – war is war and all the rest of it – but you train so hard all your life and by that time I had been nowhere.

“So I spent seven months in Iraq. “It was exceptionally hot in Iraq, we had eight days straight of 56-degree heat, wearing 35 kilograms of body armour.” 

After returning home he told his wife that his dream of going overseas was out of his system, but that was only the beginning. 

After Iraq, Mr Westhead bought a property in Bendigo and took up a post in Puckapunyal. Eight days later he was off to America as part of the US Marine Corps for another six months. 

“Then I got back to Australia and was only back six or seven months and work called me up and said ‘how would you like to go to Afghanistan?’ . . . I said yes,” he said. 

“I came back and thought that would be my last hurrah and I could stay in Bendigo, but in February this year I was asked to go to Egypt.

“Needless to say, I just got back from Egypt.” 

Mr Westhead said although he had travelled across the globe he was terrified of flying. “It sounds ridiculous but I am absolutely terrified of flying,” he said. 

Mr Westhead is now the sergeant major in charge of firearms training for the Australian Defence Force where he oversees all weapons training across the Australian defence force.

He said he was nearing his compulsory retirement age and no more travelling was in his future.

To commemorate Remembrance Day, a service will be held tomorrow at Bendigo’s RSL Soldiers Memorial Hall in Pall Mall at 10.45am.

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