Nor West News : October 6th 2011
www.aucklandnow.co.nz Thursday, October 6, 2011 Living the army dream Right stuff: Being a territorial for Greg Jonkers of Bethells includes unforgettable experiences like flying in an Iroquois. Chopper skills: A hovering Iroquois lifts a heavy load during training at Riverhead Forest. By RANI TIMOTI Visit www.nor-westnews.co.nz to see territorials gear up at Riverhead Forest. HE'S a civilian during the week and a soldier on the weekend. Bethells farmer Greg Jonkers is living the dream as a territorial. The general public may not realise when a territorial puts on a uniform they're army,'' he says. It's like volunteer firefighters when they serve the New Zealand Fire Service.'' Greg wanted to join the army after he left Waitakere College but put the idea on hold for about 15 years. I decided one day before I got too old that it was now or never.'' Today the 37-year-old has no regrets. There's no age restriction -- but you've got to pass a physical, and medical and educational tests.'' Everything about the army has been a highlight. He's developed more leadership skills, been encouraged by his superiors and made friends for life with fellow comrades over his four years of service. Now I understand how you wouldn't hesitate to protect your friends if you're under fire. It's like a big family and you look out for one another.'' Army life requires discipline and organisation. You do everything fast and efficiently. You definitely have to maintain a very high standard.'' Greg's life-time ambition to fly in the Iroquois helicopter was granted during training at Riverhead Forest and Whenuapai airbase last month with 1 Logistics Company, 3rd Auckland and Northland Battalion Group. To actually go up as part of the New Zealand Army was one of my greatest thrills and for the other soldiers too it was absolutely mind- boggling.'' They flew over Riverhead Forest using a range of combat tactical manoeuvres then undertook train- ing, attaching loads beneath the hovering Iroquois. The units were using trucks and helicopters to move troops and stores during the military exercise. They then went by Uni-mog to the Hobsonville RSA to watch the rugby. There are training exercises around the country every month. You've got to have determination in the army. You don't fight the discipline -- you go with the flow. Andattheendofitallyouget respect from your superiors.'' Greg works in the film industry in civilian life. He hires out his farm for locations and provides transpor- tation as a qualified mechanic with driving experience in 4WD vehicles and trucks. He drives the Uni-mogs in his transport platoon. It's really great and I enjoy them. It's more suited to my civilian life than infantry.'' Greg thoroughly recommends the New Zealand Army for civilians, especially youth. The experience I've had -- it's an honour and a privilege.'' Phone recruiters Captain Vince Copeland on 308-0118 or 027-284-8843 or warrant officer Henry Wichman on 308-0117 or 027-249-1668 for more information on becoming a territorial. ARMY SERVICE FAMILY CUSTOM Greg's great-great-grandpa: Samuel Jonkers died in action at the Somme in 1916. Military service is a Jonkers family tradition. Greg Jonkers runs the 218.5 hectare farm which has been part of his family since 1924. He was brought up by his grandfather Artie who served in the 24th infantry battalion and fought in Italy during World War Two. His great-great-grandfather Samuel Jonkers was killed fighting for New Zealand in the battle of the Somme in 1916. Samuel came from Riverhead and was killed on the first day of action. His sons Edward John, known as Cap, and Cyril returned home from the war, after being affected by gas. Samuel's descendants still live in Edward Jonkers Drive in Riverhead. Greg says The NZ Army Territorial Force is adamant that family is first, civilian job second and the army third. ''But they also expect us to give it 100 percent when you're training with no exceptions.'' Greg says he wouldn't be able to live the dream without the support of his family. His wife Joanna encouraged him to fulfil his ambition by joining the territorials and says his self-development and fitness have been top notch.
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