Relentless pursuit of dream
JUST over a year ago, Emerald teen Reginald Oughton left his home town of Midrand in South Africa and moved to Australia to live in a first-world country with a first-rate air force so he could chase his dream of one day becoming a military pilot.
Soon after, he joined the Blackwater Cadet Unit and, according to his father Nicholas, "put in a tonne of effort”.
Mr Oughton said Reginald knew swimming was one of his weak areas, but worked on it relentlessly as he knew it would be a selection criteria in the Army's Chief of Cadet competition for this year.
"Every night he would go to the pool to tread water in full army kit in the now frigid night-time water temperatures,” Mr Oughton said.
"In addition to his self-motivated training regime were countless hours of study and practise perfecting field navigational skills, a big factor in the selection process.”
And now, after a rigorous and lengthy selection process that began in April, Reginald has been chosen as one of 10 cadets from hundreds of hopefuls across north Queensland to represent the region in the prestigious Chief of Army Cadet Team Challenge in July at Puckapunyal military base north of Melbourne.
Northern Queensland draws from cadet units in Townsville, Mackay, Yeppoon, Gladstone, Biloela and Cairns, and the Northern Queensland unit will be competing against teams from around Australia and the world, including other elite units from Britain and New Zealand.
Reginald, a Year 12 student from Emerald Christian College who has already qualified as a drone pilot, said this week, "I'm so happy - I'm ecstatic.”
The competition, he said, was an annual event where teams competed against each other based on a series of challenges including a live firing expertise, radio communications, first aid, navigation, field engineering, quick decision exercises, an obstacle course and drone work.
He said next year he would like to apply for the military and he would eventually love to be a pilot in the Defence Force Academy.
"I just love the mindset everyone has - it's efficient, and you work as a team,” he said.
"It also brings out the best in a lot of people, and in yourself and your mates.”
Emerald Christian College principal Graeme Johnston said Reginald was "doing a great job”.
"He's learning to be self-reliant and how to do things in a procedural way.”
Mr Johnston said the school had also applied to the defence forces to run a cadet unit from the school and Reginald had been working with the school to help facilitate a new unit.
"I think a kid like Reginald steps forward and says, 'What can we do?' and that's great for any person, but for a young person it's just wonderful.
"Lots of kids say 'what's in it for me?' but Reggie and kids like him say, 'What can I do to help', and they're people who make society a good place and they get a lotout of it themselves as well.”
Reginald's father said he had enjoyed watching his son's ambition and hopeful career path progressing.
"I've told him - be all you can be, you only get one shotat life,” Mr Oughton said.
"Now it's good to see him have a goal and see it happening and it's all his own initiative.”