by JOC Denny Banister
Things are rather primitive at Camp Seahound, with the exception of breakfast and dinner. Camp Seahound is located in the Freshwater Sector of the Shoal Water Bay training area in Queensland, Australia, home to this year's Tandem Thrust exercise.
Tandem Thrust '97, a combined American and Australian military exercise, involves over 27,000 military personnel from all branches of service, active duty and reserve, from both countries. Three Naval Reservists from Texas went to Camp Seahound with 650 U.S. Marines.
SK2 Richard Aguirre, MS3 Alejandro Alvarado and MS2 Samuel Chacon drill with Expeditionary Logistic Support Force Units (ELSF), Aguirre and Alvarado with Supply Support Battalion (SSB) 311 in Lubbock, TX., and Chacon drills with SSB 211 in Austin, TX. The two ELSF units often drill together, training in the field at Camp Swift in Austin, TX.
"Our reserve units asked us if we would help at Tandem Thrust," SK2 Aguirre said. "They had really trained us well, and it's a good thing. We no sooner checked in for our AT at Rockhampton, Queensland, AUS, than we were sent to Camp Seahound for 10 days to cook for Marines training in the combined exercise."
"That wasn't our first assignment," MS2 Chacon reminded, "Don't forget the Seabees' birthday party." Chacon described a real 'eatfest' they prepared for the American and Australian construction battalions, "...shrimp for the Americans and steaks for the Australians," Chacon said. "The Aussies brought their own grill for their 'barbie,' as they call a barbecue. It was huge, and we were glad to cook their steaks for them."
But the three Naval Reserves knew the party was over when they moved out for Camp Seahound in Shoal Water Bay early the next morning. "The active duty people we were assigned to were great," Aguirre said. "They told us what they expected of us and then turned the responsibility over to us. They trusted us to do our jobs professionally and then gave us the freedom to do it."
MS3 Alvarado agreed. "Yeah, the active duty guys were on port/starboard duty -- we didn't have anything to do on our time off up there, so we just worked 18 hour days the whole time we were there." At this point, Alvarado's shipmates began unmercifully poking fun at Alvarado's 18 hour days. It turns out Alvarado did not stay at Camp Seahound very long.
After the first day, Alvarado returned to Rockhampton for medical evaluation for what turned out to be a non-medical event, and was placed on duty at the headquarters camp for the remainder of his AT. He accepted the good-natured ribbing of his friends since it was obvious Aguirre and Chacon were sincerely relieved to find their shipmate Alvarado in good health after they returned from Camp Seahound 10 days later.
"At least the two of us worked hard," Aguirre said, taking a verbal jab at Alvarado. "In fact our active duty counterparts invited us to go to Thailand with them next year when they train there. It's really a good feeling when the supply chief and head of messing ask you back."
The three friends left together as they came in, laughing, joking, smiling, enjoying each other's company and friendship, on their way back to Texas to train for another year and prepare for another AT -- perhaps in Thailand at Cobra Gold.
Operation Tandem Thrust news release, dated March 14, 1997.
(Chief Journalist Denny Banister is attached to Naval Reserve Office of Information Detachment 518, St. Louis, Mo.)
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