Mossman woman’s deployment to the Middle East


Karlie Brady


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An emotional family farewell: (L-R) Siannah, Xavian, Wayne, Tamika, Jody, and Kyeisha Pitt. Image: Supplied.

Twenty-four-year-old Tamika Pitt has gone from the small-town life growing up in Mossman to a rigorous life onboard a naval ship in the Middle East.

Last month Tamika said an emotional goodbye to her family as she boarded HMAS Toowoomba departing from Perth for a six-month deployment to the Middle East.

This is Tamika’s first official deployment in the Royal Australia Navy and mum Jody Pitt said the whole family travelled from Mossman to Perth to see her off.

“We have to say goodbye to her often when she’s been home to visit and we all thought we would be fine seeing her off, but this time was very different,” she said.

“After the official ceremony had ceased and the crew were called to the ship for departure all six of us were a total mess. It was tears and hugs all around and it didn’t end until after the ship sailed well around the corner out of the harbour.”

Tamika enlisted in the Navy in Townsville in 2018 where she completed training before, attending Sydney’s medical training facility at HMAS Penguin as part of the ship’s medical emergency team.

She was then posted to Perth’s Garden Island facility before joining the crew of HMAS Toowoomba in late 2018 and being promoted to Able Seaman in 2019.

Jody said Tamika decided to join the Navy because working in retail and hospitality locally wasn’t giving her enough of a challenge.

“It was the challenge and outcome of job security which was a huge drawcard along with the many advantageous benefits which come with working for the Defence Force.”

Jody said, however, one of the main reasons for joining was to inspire her siblings and show them you can do anything you put your mind to.

“Being a young Indigenous woman from a small town, she also wanted to inspire others in her community and show that hard work and determination can get you anywhere you want to go,” Jody said.

Tamika’s deployment is part of Operation Manitou in the Middle East Region.

During the deployment, HMAS Toowoomba will support missions involving counterterrorism, counter-piracy, theatre security co-operation, and regional engagements as part of the Australian Defence Force's contribution to support international efforts promoting maritime security, stability, and prosperity in the Middle East Region.

Jody said the upheaval in the Middle East particularly after last month’s US assassination of Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani and the retaliation that followed just before Tamika set sail, did concern her.

“We are naturally a little worried about the possibility of harm coming to the crew of the HMAS Toowoomba. Tamika isn’t too concerned though and has been informed that if things are to look like turning bad, the ship will be recalled to safety,” she said.

Jody said that people often ask her how she feels about having a child in the Defence Force or make comments about how scared she must be, but to this, she has one response.

“It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, or what you are doing, you could walk onto the road one day and get hit by a bus, is that going to stop you from crossing the road?

“We are all extremely proud of Tamika, her commitment, determination and drive is definitely an inspiration to our family. Once she made the decision to join, she did everything she needed to do in a short amount of time to get accepted.

“If this story inspires just one person to believe in themselves, and make a career in the Defence Force, it would make Tamika extremely proud to have helped in some way,” Jody said.

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