Myanmar-born Coffs Harbour local enjoying life in the Army Reserve

Australian Army soldier Private Mesak Hlawng Sang of the 41st Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment on High Range, Queensland during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023. Photo: Cpl Michael Currie.

A COFFS HARBOUR resident who hails from Myanmar says a lifelong desire to join the Army motivated him to become a part time soldier.

“I was born in Myanmar, Chin state,” said Private Mesak Hlawng Sang from the 41st Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment.

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“My family were refugees,” he said.

“First we were in Malaysia; we were there for eight months and then we came to Australia in 2008.”

Having settled in the area, the Coffs Harbour resident lists the beach as the highlight of his home town.

Private Hlawng Sang joined the Army Reserve in January 2019.

“I always wanted to join the Defence Force, particularly the Army, I just always had an interest in it.”

The member of 41st Battalion has fit plenty in during his short Army career.

“I went to Malaysia, Rifle Company Butterworth rotation 138,” Private Hlawng Sang said.

“We did some jungle training and some urban training in Singapore for ten days.

“I was fortunate enough to gain some high explosive qualifications, we also did one week out field in the jungle; I really enjoyed it.”

Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023 saw Private Hlawng Sang deploy to Ingham as part of Battle Group Waratah, mostly made up of New South Wales based Army Reservists.

In the exercise scenario, Private Hlawng Sang helped Battle Group Waratah conduct protection operations, securing the Herbert River town from role-playing militia groups from the regular Army.

“I have never done such a major exercise before, it was a real eye opener,” he said.

“The scenarios were very realistic, I have never experienced anything like with the enemy role players before from the regular Army, they really brought their A game.”

Private Hlawng Sang was thankful for the warm reception from the residents of Ingham.

“I think they really enjoyed seeing us around, everyone was really friendly, locals were waving, saying hello, it was good.”

He has this advice for anyone considering joining the Army Reserve.

“It’s a good new experience, you get great opportunities to do things that you wouldn’t normally do in your civilian life.”

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