They breed them tough in the Second Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment.
Today’s 2RAR is the repository of the regimental traditions of the family of Second Battalions, a proud tradition which stretches back to the second and third wave landings at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915 and some of the most significant battles of world War II.
In 1915 it was a battalion among the first recruited in Sydney but its motto which continues to this day, Nulli Secundis, Second to None, is a succinct summary of the ethos of that family of second Battalions.
Since it was raised from the 66th Battalion on October 16, 1945, 2RAR has served operationally in Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, Rwanda, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Modern 2RAR is truly a family in many senses.
Some of Australia’s most significant contemporary soldiers have passed through its ranks, bringing credit to themselves and their battalion.
On June 22, 1956 during the Malayan Emergency, communist terrorists ambushed a 2RAR patrol, killing three in what became known as The Pipeline Ambush.
For his aggressive leadership in the subsequent actions in which the CT party was driven off, Lieutenant Wal Campbell was awarded a Military Cross.
The 2RAR tradition of service also follows family footsteps.
From December 2000 to January 2003 Wal Campbell’s son Angus commanded 2RAR, including a tour with the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor.
The Campbells are by no means the only father, son and now grandson combination to serve with 2RAR, but their distinguished service record is hard to beat.
Another distinguished 2RAR veteran is Brigadier Bill Rolfe, later head of the Australian Army Legal Corps and a senior member of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
On August 10, 1970 then Lieutenant Bill Rolfe was grievously wounded when he stepped on a mine.
Wounded in the same incident was 2nd Lieutenant Pat Cameron, both officers losing their lower legs.
Lesser individuals may have been overwhelmed by the extent of their injuries but both stayed in the army, Rolfe training as a lawyer and Cameron as an educator.
Awarded an MID for his leadership in Vietnam, Bill Rolfe was soon back in Townsville training the regimental rugby team while studying law, his artificial legs no handicap to the former first-grade rugby player.
2RAR’s reunion is not the only significant gathering this weekend, the second being the 50th Anniversary reunion of the Australian army Training Team Vietnam.
Unlike 2RAR, the AATTV only existed between 1962 1972 and uniquely never served on Australian soil.
Some veterans are torn between the two events.
Lieutenant Colonel Barry Tinkler served with 2RAR during the Malayan Emergency and was an original AATTV member.
His 2RAR platoon sergeant Jim Geedrick also served with AATTV.
Neither will be in Townsville this weekend but that doesn’t mean their affection for 2RAR has diminished.
Given the age of its members there may not be another opportunity for an AATTV reunion, Barry Tinkler said this week
However with luck 2RAR will be there forever.
Ross Eastgate is a military historian, writer and journalist specialising in defence. A graduate of Duntroon and the Army Command and Staff College, he has served in the Middle East, PNG and East Timor.