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Peacekeeping role means Xmas away

By Amy McGillivray


Army staff sergeant Suzy Stack will be a long way from her hometown of Te Puke this Christmas, but it is bound to be one she will remember.

Miss Stack is in Sinai, Egypt, as part of a six-month deployment with the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), an independent international organisation created by the Arab Republic of Egypt and the State of Israel to keep peace in Sinai.

She may be a world away from home, but Christmas in Egypt will still have a distinctly Kiwi flavour.

"We're going to have a contingent Christmas lunch barbecue and an Australia-versus-New Zealand cricket game on Christmas afternoon," she told the Bay of Plenty Times from Egypt.

This will be her second Christmas deployment, during an army career that began in 1998.

"My family are used to me deploying overseas. I'll try and Skype them [on Christmas Day]. When I first went overseas there was no way to communicate."

Miss Stack has not always had her heart set on being in the army but has not looked back since signing up.

She completed a cheffing course after graduating from Te Puke High School in 1997 and was looking for an opportunity to get some work experience and further her qualifications.

"My brother, he actually wanted to join the army so I went with him to the recruitment office," she said. He did not join but Miss Stack did.

"I love it. I've never regretted it," she said.

She has worked as an army chef in East Timor twice, Dubai and Afghanistan but her current assignment is very different.

Instead of cheffing, Miss Stack works as an operational instructor, training forces from the 12 nations that make up the MFO, on how to use x-ray machines and other equipment.

"We've been over here for 30 years keeping the peace between Egypt and Israel," Miss Stack said.

A month in, Miss Stack was enjoying her role in Egypt.

"It's pretty good. Just working with so many nationalities," she said. "Everyone's working towards the common goal of the treaty."

Miss Stack said she hoped to one day come back to the Western Bay and work as an army recruitment officer.

"It's a really good life for people ... the opportunities. You get to get out there and see the world. It's excellent training, it's excellent friends. I'm just really happy that I can serve my country and do my family proud," she said.

"I've just been really fortunate that I've been able to go to so many places and see so many things."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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