Photo Recall: Youngster's dash tears soldier's heart in two

By Jane Phare

Private Terry Anderson shares his last moments with his son Jaynus. Photo / Getty Images, Photo Researcher / Emma Walter
Private Terry Anderson shares his last moments with his son Jaynus. Photo / Getty Images, Photo Researcher / Emma Walter

As New Zealand Army troops lined up at Ohakea Airforce base ready to leave for peacekeeping duties in East Timor 12 years ago, one soldier was having doubts.

When Private Terry Anderson stooped to hug his 5-year-old son Jaynus, shortly before boarding a flight that would take him away for a year, he questioned if he was doing the right thing.

It was September 1999 and Jaynus was with his grandmother in a crowd of wellwishers at the airbase farewelling the troops. He broke free and ran to his father for one last hug. The moment was captured by photographer Phil Walter. His photo won Single Best Picture at the Qantas Media Awards that year.

It was a moment too that caused Anderson to question what he was doing. But it was too late to back out.

Shortly after that last embrace, Anderson flew to Darwin for three weeks of training and acclimatisation and then on to Indonesia where he was to spend a year on peacekeeping duties with the Defence Force.

Now living in the Waikato and working as an electrical linesman, Anderson remembers wondering why he was leaving his family to go to another country he knew nothing about to protect people "I don't really know ... yeah, there were a lot of mixed thoughts on the day that I left."

During his time away Anderson got one leave break to come back to New Zealand.

Other than that he, like his colleagues, eagerly looked forward to letters and parcels from home, and a treasured satellite phonecall "every three or four months".

He found the separation from his son and family hard.

Jaynus lived with his mother, who had separated from Anderson before the peacekeeping mission, while his father was away.

Anderson, now 37, left the Army in 2003.

"It came down to what was more important, my career or my son."

There was no competition, he said.

Jaynus came to live with Anderson, visiting his mother Sofia regularly.

As for the East Timor tour of duty, Anderson described it as "life changing".

"It helped you appreciate home."

Jaynus, now 17, still lives with his father and is studying at a pre-military course with a view to following in his father's footsteps by joining the defence force.

He remembers feeling "pretty gutted" the day his father left for Indonesia.

"I missed him when he was gone."

Only now does Jaynus realise the sacrifice his father made in leaving the Defence Force.

"He loved the Army. He gave up heaps to be with me. I really appreciate that."

- Herald on Sunday

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