Faith on the frontline

Book | From Duntroon to Dili | By Gary Stone

Book review by Chip Henriss

It’s 1990 and, in the middle of the wasteland that divides the opposing armies of Iran and Iraq, drives a small vehicle sporting a big United Nations flag. On board are international peace keepers including Australian Gary Stone.

“As far as the eye could see to the left and to the right, Iraqi T 72 tanks have pushed forward into firing positions with their barrels all directed at us. ‘Oh dear God.’ Fear grips my body as I contemplate that just one itchy trigger finger from either side will set off a lethal engagement with us as sitting ducks in the crossfire.”

Gary Stone is a unique man within the Australian Army. He is perhaps the first and only person to have risen to command an Australian Infantry Battalion, leave a very promising career only to return after following the call to become a deacon in the Catholic Church and return to the army as a chaplain.

From Duntroon to Dili is a story of one man’s life and spiritual journey during a career which spanned nearly five decades in both the Australian Army and Federal Police.

This story is like sitting down with Mr Stone as he speaks of his experiences in the trenches in the aftermath of the Iran/Iraq war (where he worked with the United Nations), or of his spiritual journey within an environment often scathing of those who profess to believe.

The book is interesting for anyone of faith or no faith as the author’s passion for life, his family and his friends is what really drives the narrative.

This passion runs alongside Mr Stone’s intense love for the athletic world of the Army, with its physical and adventure training and opportunities for travel. It includes his experiences in the Middle East, the Solomon Islands, Bougainville and East Timor.

He shares his unique story in a matter of fact way that is comforting and familiar.

From Duntroon to Dili can be found here:

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