Australian Army Signalman Chris Feros served in Western Sahara during the 90s, and attended the 2018 Anzac Day Ceremony at Boyne Island.
Australian Army Signalman Chris Feros served in Western Sahara during the 90s, and attended the 2018 Anzac Day Ceremony at Boyne Island. Matt Taylor GLA250418ISLA

Former peacekeeper tells of the campaign that went unnoticed

ANZAC Day is a day of remembrance but it can also be one of discovery.

For ex-serviceman Australian Army Signalman Chris Feros it is important to recognise lesser-known campaigns.

Mr Feros served as a peacekeeper in Western Sahara in the 1990s and attended the Boyne Island Anzac Day morning service today.

"I understand that because Anzac Day happened in World War I, that's what it's about," he said.

"What needs to happen though, is don't just remember the guys that died or the ones that have been injured.

"It's the unseen toll that needs to be remembered - a lot of people still suffer."

Mr Feros said Australia's Western Sahara campaign goes largely unknown by many because it happened at the same time as the Cambodian war.

"Because Cambodia was closer to us, (servicepeople in the Sahara) were forgotten, and we're still forgotten," he said.

"The Western Sahara was a Spanish colony and when they pulled out the French took over.

"When the French pulled out the Moroccans had a big march in 1973."

Mr Feros said Australia's involvement in the Western Sahara took place between September 5, 1991, and May 25, 1994, with five contingents, all of 45 personnel serving.

 

INSET: Susan Felsche, a major in the Australian Army, was the first Australian woman to die on an overseas military operation since the Second World War.
INSET: Susan Felsche, a major in the Australian Army, was the first Australian woman to die on an overseas military operation since the Second World War. Australian War Memorial

He said they worked with the United Nations peacekeeping force (MINURSO) monitoring a ceasefire.

Australia lost one soldier during the campaign, Army Doctor Major Susan Felsche, who was killed on June 21, 1993, in a Swiss aircraft crash and was the first Australian woman to die on an overseas military operation since World War II.

Mr Feros was 17 when he joined the Army, his 21st birthday falling six days after he landed in the Western Sahara.

He later suffered a brain injury during a truck accident while training in Australia and is a Totally and Permanently Incapacitated ex-serviceperson.

"I fractured my skull and I've had 12 brain operations to reduce fluid," he said.

"I joke that it was all exploratory to see if I had a brain!"

Mr Feros said he hoped the community continued to commemorate Anzac Day to thank those who gave their lives for our freedom and servicepersons who continue to suffer from mental and physical injuries.



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