Timor mission a dream come true
By SALLY GORDON
ILUKA'S Lieutenant Ashley Lenard fulfilled a long-held dream last Friday when he touched down in East Timor to join Australian peace-keeping troops already deployed in the strife-torn country.
The tour of duty to East Timor will be the 22-year-old's first overseas mission with the Australian Defence Force's 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (RAR).
Lieutenant Lenard is charged with leading a platoon of the 3rd RAR.
His mother, Carol Lenard, said her son, who was trained at the Royal Military College Duntroon and is now based at Sydney's Holsworthy, was itching to be sent overseas.
"He wanted to go to Iraq, his ambition has always been to travel overseas to work," Mrs Lenard said.
"He was just waiting, that's what they're trained for ... and I guess for him, it was being able to put everything he's learnt into action."
National news outlets yesterday reported that Australian troops were struggling to restore order in East Timor, with the Prime Minister, John Howard, considering the possibility of adding to the 1300 troops already deployed.
Lieutenant Lenard is a former captain of Maclean High School and well-known for his sporting prowess and leadership qualities.
Ms Lenard said her son knew from a young age that he wanted to serve his country.
Lieutenant Lenard had his first interview with the army when he was in Year 10, about six weeks before his father, Scott Lenard, was killed in a shipping accident at Evans Head.
Mr Lenard died when the 43,000-tonne Star Sea Bridge collided with his trawler in the early hours of June 21, causing the fishing vessel to capsize and sink.