Corey Walton still reflects on the memory of flying through valleys in Afghanistan, his legs dangling from a Chinook military transport helicopter, marvelling at the beauty of the countryside, while at the same time fearful of enemy forces.
These days, you’ll find him using the skills he learned over 12 years with the Australian Army in his role as Superintendent Logistics at our GEMCO operation on Groote Eylandt, off Australia’s northern coast.
Now, instead of ensuring military equipment is delivered to frontline soldiers, Corey is responsible for the safe and efficient export of manganese from our world-class mine.
Corey joined the army straight from school and says he didn’t take himself or military life too seriously until he was posted to the Special Forces.
“I was on a parachuting course when 9/11 happened. I was gobsmacked and knew then that life was going to get very serious,” he said.
“We started loading up to go overseas and fight almost immediately.”
Corey quickly rose from the rank of Private to become one of the youngest Sergeants in the Army – so quickly that his friends nicknamed him ‘Ferrari’. He served in Afghanistan for five months and was later posted to Iraq to train Iraqi soldiers.
“After six months, I could give my lectures in Arabic. I enjoyed that – it meant I could talk to the interpreters in their language,” he said.
Corey has worked at GEMCO for more than eight years and says he loves his job.
“There are a lot of responsibilities, but the rewards of working with a great team, and contributing to the safe delivery of manganese in this beautiful part of the world, is just so satisfying.”
As Superintendent Logistics, Corey oversees the day-to-day operation of GEMCO’s port, including the loading of 190-metre-long cargo ships, and the direction of road trains travelling to and from the mine. He leads a team of around 80 people and says his top priority is making sure they all go home safe and well.
“Safety is enormously important to us,” he said.
“A port is potentially a dangerous place and the last thing we want is for anybody to be hurt. There are a lot of moving parts and people.”
Today, on ANZAC Day, we thank Corey and all ANZAC veterans for their service and sacrifice.
Lest we forget.