On Deployment to Sinai
20120511_WN_C1022490_0002 - SGT Whitewood performs a haka to mark the 30th anniversary of the MFO
Sergeant Whitewood has completed a six month deployment to the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt as a peacekeeper for the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO).
He was one of 28 Kiwis deployed to the MFO, a 12 nation commitment, upholding the Peace Treaty signed between Egypt and Israel in 1979. Along with New Zealand’s longstanding commitment to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO), participation in the MFO represents the most tangible demonstration of New Zealand’s support for the Middle East peace process.
SGT Whitewood was a member of the New Zealand Training and Advisory Team in the Sinai. "As a Driving Instructor, my role within the team was to educate new personnel on the challenging road and driving conditions in the Middle East. I also licenced incoming personnel on the various vehicle types, from 4WD Suburban Colorados to 500 Horsepower Mac Tractor units hauling 40 foot reefers or containers."
Everyone gets on really well at the MFO and the Kiwis are very popular with their ‘can do’ attitude and friendly nature. "It’s like one big family on camp, everyone gets on really well and the language barrier isn’t an issue between the various nations. You learn to appreciate simple hand gestures, the universal headshakes that represent ‘yes’ and ‘no’."
The biggest highlight of SGT Whitewood’s deployment was the opportunity to see some of the historic sites. "I visited an amazing place called Petra. Words cannot express how magnificent it is. The Middle East houses other ancient wonders like the Pyramids of Giza and the Valley of the Kings. I am astounded by the regions ancient historical structures."
"I loved the Egyptian culture and have a deep respect for the people. You quickly learn to appreciate how lucky your own children are back at home. This is their way of life and despite the poverty in some areas they are very hospitable people."
As a driver in the New Zealand Army there is scope for people within our trade to fulfil a number of positions in the Sinai, adds SGT Whitewood. "You can come as a member of the Driving Section, the Section Commander of the drivers, a Driving Instructor (DI) and the Senior Driving Instructor (SDI). This was my third tour to the Sinai and I have been lucky enough to fulfil the driver positions in sequence thus far. Will I come back again as the Senior Driving Instructor? That depends on whether my wife will let me"
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