I read with interest the article submitted by Mark Whitley (1975) regarding his chance encounter with a fellow Rusian years later at an office coffee point. This story reminded me of a similar encounter, albeit under fairly different working conditions. I was in Afghanistan during 2009-10 and in between extended patrols my team would return to the Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Tarin Kowt known as Kamp Holland. Due to the nature of activities conducted by my team, I had the pleasure of crossing paths with Major General (MAJGEN) Mark Kelly (JR1972) on a number of occasions.
At the time, MAJGEN Kelly commanded all Australian forces in the Middle East for the duration of my tour of duty and his presence at the FOB was generally a direct indicator to Australian soldiers that quality food and news from the greater Defence Force would be shared that night. Once our common ground was established MAJGEN Kelly and I reminisced over animal husbandry lessons, laughed at rivalries with local schools, and nodded sagely at the school’s seemingly unbreakable academic hegemony. We then finally got around to discussing military matters, but only after debating the utility of various items of school uniform and how much Barrengarry House would go for at auction. It struck me that such occurrences must be few and far between for the school these days, and certainly less frequent than reunions occurring in the corridors of major hospitals or strategic consultants’ offices in Sydney City.
I imagine that many Ruse ‘old boys’ crossed paths in the sweltering humidity of Vietnam, but how many have done so in gritty mountains of Afghanistan? I’d love to hear from any other Rusians whose post-school life has taken them to this fascinating country. Looking forward to seeing the Class of 2000 soon!
Regards, James Groves (2000)