Midshipman Benjamin Gaskin.
Midshipman Benjamin Gaskin.

Emerald teen strives for military honours

A FORMER Emerald student has spent the last six months completing specialist drills and weapons training after veering from the traditional post-high school pathway.

Midshipman Benjamin Gaskin, 17, recently graduated the New Entry Officers Course (NEOC) and is now an officer in the Royal Navy.

He said the Graduation Day was a big honour, with the chief of navy in attendance, although it was the first graduation ceremony where family, friends and other guests were not allowed to attend due to coronavirus restrictions.

The course prepared attendees for life in the military, specifically the navy and included drill training, weapons training and two main field exercises that ranged from five to nine days in the field.

“I wanted to join the navy because I was never attracted to the general plan that most high school graduates have, which is to go straight into uni,” Gaskin said.

“That kind of career stream would not be right for me.

“I wanted a hands-on job where I can travel and gain skills, plus a free master’s degree is a bonus.”

Gaskin was finishing his gap year working out of naval bases in Sydney, familiarising himself with the job he wants, a Maritime Warfare Officer (MWO).

He will later spend about 18 months learning how to navigate a warship and learning the weapons systems aboard as part of the MWO training.

“The MWO career stream offers specialisation roles and my goal is to become a mine warfare and clearance diving officer,” Gaskin said.

Clearance diving tasks include complex missions to depths of 60m, surface and underwater demolitions and the rendering safe and disposal of conventional explosive ordnance and improvised explosive devices.

Gaskin said his dream goal was to eventually join the special air service regiment, Australia’s most elite special forces.

Through the specialised training and experience this year, he said one of the biggest things he learnt was the importance of self-discipline and “the fact that someone somewhere always has it worse off than you”.

“So, there is no point in complaining about the small meticulous tasks that you have and just to get over things that would originally have bothered me.”