Southern Telegraph - - Telegraph News - David Sal­vaire

A re­tired Waikiki army and navy medic has been recog­nised for his work in in­ter­na­tional peace op­er­a­tions with a Salut­ing their Ser­vice Cer­tifi­cate of Ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

James Crosby joined the navy as a medic with the hopes of help­ing peo­ple and liv­ing an ad­ven­tur­ous life full of travel.

Af­ter three years of train­ing at an off­shore hos­pi­tal in NSW he joined the army, be­com­ing a full­time nurs­ing of­fi­cer in 1995.

It was not long be­fore Mr Crosby was de­ployed to Ti­mor work­ing along­side the United Na­tions where he spent seven months deal­ing with the fall­out from the lo­cal con­flict.

“We were meant to look af­ter the army, UN and non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions but we ended up look­ing af­ter lo­cal civil­ians too,” he said. “I was sec­ond in charge of the op­er­at­ing theatre do­ing re­sus­ci­ta­tions and we just couldn’t push them away.

“Some of the things we saw there, es­pe­cially with the chil­dren, was quite har­row­ing.”

Af­ter a stint in the Solomon Is­lands, one of the tough­est de­ploy­ments came for Mr Crosby in 2004 when the Box­ing Day tsunami struck.

Within a week of the tragic event, he was trans­ferred to Aceh on the HMAS Kan­im­bla.

“There were kids’ toys and shoes scat­tered all over the place and we knew we were walk­ing over bod­ies that were buried in the mud,” he said.

De­spite the tragic ex­pe­ri­ences, Mr Crosby said he was happy to be help­ing those in need and thanked his wife and chil­dren for their sup­port through the tough times.

“You’re not in a com­bat­ive role, it’s a heal­ing or nur­tur­ing role, so you feel good look­ing af­ter the lo­cals or sol­diers,” he said.

“It’s helped me a lot but it’s also burnt me out a bit.

“I still have is­sues with post­trau­matic stress dis­or­der and that im­pacts on the fam­ily a bit. I think de­fence needs to give more at­ten­tion to the fam­i­lies of peo­ple who serve be­cause they’re the un­sung heroes.”

The re­al­ity of com­bat hit home for Mr Crosby on April 2, 2005 when the Aus­tralian Naval Sea King he­li­copter, the Shark Zero Two, was lost at sea.

“I’d rid­den on that a few times and lost some mates in the ac­ci­dent,” he said.

“When those things hap­pen, it’s like a rock thrown in a pond, with the rip­ples re­ver­ber­at­ing through the fam­i­lies and the com­mu­nity.”

Pic­ture: David Sal­vaire

Ex-Navy medic James Crosby with his ser­vice medals and a paint­ing of the fallen he­li­copter Shark Zero Two.

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