The Navy Diver’s Q&A interview with Australian war hero Commando Private Chad Elliot
Chad Elliot takes us on a little journey into his former military world. A legend that’s fought on the front line, survived and represented this country proudly. A national hero, martial arts and vintage car enthusiast, his inspiring story has captivated the world over. Full story below…
What was the catalyst for you joining the military ?
I had always had an interest in military history mostly WW2 and Vietnam. I also wanted to experience what war was but not only that I wanted to be with the best.
Tell us about your boot camp/ training experiences ?
I trained extremely hard before I enlisted in preparation for what I was to come up against. I also studied really hard so I could finish my apprenticeship earlier. As soon as I did, I quit my job and started training full time. I found as the training/ courses went on, the more intense they got. I started with Basic Training, Infantry training then moved onto advanced infantry training. By that stage we had lost close to half the guys we had started with. After that I moved into the Special Forces selection course.
Which war did you serve and where exactly did you go ?
I did three tours of Afghanistan and deployed on op quickstep Fiji.
What was your main role/job/assignment ?
I was a heavy weapons specialist and team medic but also trained in counter terrorism.
Tell us about a couple of your most memorable experiences ?
Probably when I was working with U.S O.D.A keeping watch on Saudi SF on my first tour. It was exciting to be a part of a small American special forces team. Driving around some of the worst areas of Afghanistan in a three car convoy. Looking back on it, I still cant believe how we made it out of there alive. Another memory is also being attacked by one of our Belgium attack dogs while swimming in a creek on a day that was probably fifty degrees. Apparently the dog didn’t want to be thrown in the water and couldn’t swim so it decided to bite my shoulder pretty badly.
Did you feel pressure of stress in these remote locations and what situations may have triggered this ?
There is always a level of stress not knowing if or where IED’s may be. Or whether a child may be a suicide bomber for example.
You recently talked about your near brush with death and surviving. Can you elaborate on this event and also a little insight to the extend of your injuries (Do you have a bionic leg as a result) What were the main factors that kept you alive ?
I was shot by a 7.62mm round which went through my right femur shattering my bone and causing major muscle loss in my glute. I also received shrapnel in my abdomen and forearm. I don’t have a bionic leg but I did need a titanium rod to be fitted. It was a chaotic day and I was very lucky to be surrounded by the best soldiers and medics around who risked their lives to make sure I was safe.
How did you stay in touch with family ?
Keeping in touch with family is quite easy. There is internet and phone access and of course mail.
Do you recall any particular humorous or unusual events ?
Usually watching the Americans or Dutch was quite entertaining. I found swapping red bulls could get you almost anything out of their storeroom. I had a pretty good deal going with a Texas unit where I had my whole section fitted out with all the latest U.S gear. Then the Dutch were just out of control with their fashions. It was quite good people watching.
How did you guys keep entertained ?
Having the sigs around meant there would always be a steady supply of downloaded movies. The gym was good or just eating all day in the mess would keep me entertained.
Were you awarded any medals and citation and how did you get them ?
I was proud to be part of the team to be awarded Unit citation for Gallantry. The Meritorious unit citation which is awarded for extraordinary Gallantry in Action. The Meritorious citation – it recognises sustained outstanding service in warlike operations.
Do you recall the day your service ended and what did you do in the days/ weeks afterward ? Also what did you go onto do as a career after the war ?
The day it ended I was trying to work through my own issues. I ended up moving to Thailand and started a uni degree studying the Thai language where I hoped to become a translator or work in foreign affairs but I ended up buying a farm and became a sugar and rice farmer for the next four years living near Laos while studying.
What advice would you give to troops who have overcome front line trauma and who have been in similar experiences to yourself ?
Keep yourself busy and do what makes you happy! Too many people just sit around which is the worst thing you can do.
How did your service and experiences affect your life ?
It has taught me that things can always be worse and that with mental toughness we can accomplish so much more than what we thought possible.
Thanks for your service Legend and also sharing your story. We wish you continued success in all you put your mind to.