Born and bred on the Coffs Coast, Scott Seccombe joined the Army when he was 21. Ten years after his discharge, his experiences still have a huge impact on the way he lives his life today …
What prompted your decision to join the forces?
I just wanted a change of lifestyle. I’d always grown up in Coffs and hadn’t travelled much afield, so when I saw an ad on TV for the Defence Force, I thought,“Yeah, I could do that.” And so I did.
> What was your initial training in?
My first initial training was as a Combat /Field Engineer, and that involved everything from bridge laying, mine clearance, mine laying, water purification, minor construction and saw milling.
I did my initial three months training at Kapuka, and then I went to the School of Military Engineering and I spent about 6 months training there.
My wife and I got married quarters in Sydney, and we actually spent the rest of my military years in Sydney, unlike a lot of military families. My next postings were all to units in Sydney, so even though I travelled half the globe with the Army, I never actually moved my home away from Sydney.
> How was the culture shock?
It was a huge culture shock for a young bloke that lived at home in Coffs Harbour. All they do the first four weeks is yell at you! The next four weeks all they do is yell at you and make you run up big hills, and the last four weeks they actually stop yelling at you, because by then you’ve got it all together.
In the morning you’ve got 15 minutes to get up, shave, dress, make your bed and be on parade. The first couple of days it took us 45 minutes to get down to breakfast, and all that was left to eat was the sauce that baked beans come in! So by the end of the last four weeks, we were getting down there in 10 minutes! It was a great transition in terms of self discipline, confidence and goal setting. We marched in there as a bunch of young Aussie slobs, but we marched out as machines. It was quite amazing.
> Where were you deployed overseas?
I did a couple of trips. I went to Malaysia, where we spent a lot of time trekking through the jungles. It was great to see the different cultures over there.
In 1995 I went to Scotland for 5 weeks on exchange, and I was lucky enough to do the Guard on Edinburgh Castle. It was pretty full on, because you were protecting the Scottish Crown!
I also had a 6 month deployment with the British Forces. During that time we were deployed to Canada and Bosnia. Flying into Bosnia was a huge eye opener. We’d done a few days of pre-deployment training at Cophill Downs already, but when you get there, the joint is littered with land mines. You don’t even go off the side of the road at all, or you get blown up. The intensity was huge.
> How have these deployments helped shape you?
Malaysia gave me the chance to experience different cultures and appreciate them a bit more. Going to the UK opened my eyes and made me want to go there with my family. As much as we did a lot of military stuff, we were able to get to see the castle and a few other sights. We got to see the castle in such depth, because we could go anywhere! Just the history of that was amazing. Being deployed with the British Forces was very full on. I think I fired more live rounds in those 6 months than I did in my entire military career.
To come back from all of those things has certainly given me a different outlook on humanity. My tolerance and acceptance of people has increased. It’s made me a stronger person and made me realise how lucky I am.
> Tell us about your connection with the RSL here.
They actually adopted me! After being discharged, I came back to Coffs. The late Geoff Porter (an ex Vietnam Vet), who was the Parade Marshall at the time, asked me to march alongside the Vietnam Vets for ANZAC Day. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.
In the following years I went on to help him as a Parade Marshall. I started as his apprentice, and when he was voted in as President of the RSL and didn’t have time, I took over as Parade Marshall. I still do it now.
> How has your military experience influenced your work life since?
I opened a team building centre in around 2001. We worked with ETC and took this employment agency from a 40% strike rate with their long term unemployed to 90%. It was all based around my military stuff. We’d talk to them about yelling at them at the start, that was imposed discipline, and then as I stopped yelling at them, it became self discipline. Just like my military training. As far as setting up my business, the military gave me a solid basis. With my Skirmish business, my persona again is very military like.
That military side of me has set me up very well. The assertiveness and planning that I gained from the military followed through. A lot of people say that I didn’t get out of the army, I just started my own army!
> What advice would you give to young people thinking of joining the Defence Force?
Just do it. I’m a great believer in national service. It doesn’t have to be army, navy or airforce. It can be the police, fire brigade or the ambulance! Even if they only do it for a few years, I think it is probably one of the best things any young person can do. The amount of self worth, drive and confidence it gives you is amazing. And it gives you the hugest amount of pride to know that you’ve done something for your country. Just do it. Don’t be afraid, because it’s one of the most amazing journeys you can have in life.
> Thank you Scott.