Monday, 12 November 2012 8:35 AM
Australian Reservists Returning Home
One of the last contingents of Australian reservists on Solomon Islands is going home next month after a decade-long assistance mission that's been deemed a huge success.
The Australian army and police presence has overseen a Pacific nation which was gripped by violence transition to a stable, working democracy.
Ten years ago Australian soldiers patrolled the dangerous streets of Honiara fully armed but the environment now could not be more different.
"It's great, it's a real indication of how successful the overall mission has been - as I said, the police force are doing better and better," said Captain John Hawke.
"The machinery of government is maturing, they've probably got a way to go. I'm proud of where they've got to."
Australian troops and police arrived here in 2003 as part of the regional assistance mission and the bond between them and the locals is obvious.
As the security situation has improved, the army has gradually reduced its presence.
There are now fewer than 100 army personnel on the islands. The vast majority are reservists and most are from WA.
This is the second to last rotation of reservists before the army withdraws from Solomon Islands next year.
It has many residents worried and the reservists too have mixed feelings.
"It is hard but you almost get attached here, to the children and the people because they're such lovely people," said Corporal Katie Seabrook.
Like many of the other reservists Captain John Hawke has a civilian job and family waiting for him at home.
"I get to talk to them every night. My wife is doing a fantastic job," he said.
"I'll be looking forward to having him home definitely but I'll be looking to the boys being able to play with their dad, he's going to enjoy it," said his wife Simone Hawke.
This group of reservists returns home in December and there is no doubt the countdown to going home has begun.