Enlisting in the Air Force in May 2006, Lisa Lodding was exposed to Peacekeeping immediately, with a posting to the ADF Warfare Centre and Peacekeeping Centre at RAAF Base Williamtown, NSW.
The ADF Peace Operations Training Centre, part of the Joint Capabilities Group, prepared SGT Lisa Lodding well, and appropriately so, as she has served in Peacekeeping roles on Operation Mazurka and Exercise Pirap Jabiru, where her peacekeeping training came in handy.
“I completed the Commanding UN Peacekeeping Operations Course in 2008 and was very proud to receive my certificate from LTGEN Ash Power AO,CSC, not thinking that I would soon be putting that training into effect,” SGT Lodding said.
“Deployed on Exercise Pirap Jabiru 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand, our team was confronted by rioting yellowshirts, (an opposition group to a former Thai leader), outside the UNESCAP building.
“With only 20 minutes to evacuate around 100 students from thirteen different countries I was pretty busy for that period directing staff and students to safety away from the rioters,” she said.
With a little peacekeeping practice under her belt, SGT Lodding was deployed on Operation Slipper in 2009 to provide administration support at Australia’s main operating base in the Middle East.
It was there that she met, for the first time Canadian Chief Warrant Officer Brad Biggar, with whom she would later serve in the Sinai, on Operation Mazurka.
“Posted to the Sinai in 2014, I was the personnel clerk for the 13 participating countries in the Multinational Force and Observers cohort (MFO), within a multi-national orderly room,” SGT Lodding said.
“Made up of 4 members, myself and the adjutant from Australia, United States and New Zealand personnel, the multi-national diversity that comes with peacekeeper missions was on show.
“It was an exciting, and busy time. I organised the first Sinai delivery of Aussie Hero Quilts and laundry bags, so popular in other theatres, with close friend Jan-Maree Ball.
“With seven out of the twenty-five Australian contingent members being women I found it an honour to be part of the first contingent in the Sinai to have a female contingent commander.
“And after four years to be reunited working alongside Chief WOFF Biggar was an unexpected bonus,” she said.
Another highlight for SGT Lodding was being a member of the Sinai catafalque party for the 100th Commemoration of Anzac Day in 2014.
Official duties sometimes had a small and unexpected reward such as flying over the Pyramids of Egypt on a mission to fly visiting VIPs from Cairo to the Sinai.
“During a contingent tour I was able to visit the old city sector in Jerusalem, visited the Dead Sea, the Holocaust museum, the Israel Armoured Museum and Masada, on the edge of the Judean Desert” said SGT Lodding.
SGT Lisa Lodding returned to RAAF Base Williamtown including a posting to No 26 Squadron, Air Base Operations Squadron.
Australia has been actively involved in peace operations for over 70 years.
The Australian Peacekeeping tradition continues today, with Australian peacekeepers currently serving in the UN Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO), and the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Middle East and the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
SGT Lodding is one of thousands of Air Force members who have served in or supported peacekeeping missions since 1947.
Their commitment and service will be honoured as part of Australian National Peacekeeper Day, Tuesday 14 September and as part of Centenary of Air Force commemorations throughout 2021.