Christmas absence makes the heart grow fonder for Nundle couple

REBECCA and Chris Linich have much more in common than just surnames – they both love serving their country and are members of the 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers.

At Christmas this year, though, they’ll be apart with Lieutenant Rebecca Linich serving in the Solomon Islands as a nursing officer and Corporal Chris Linich at home near Nundle.

Lieutenant  Linich works as a medical officer with the 12/16 HRL in the army reserve and her deployment on Operation Anode will see her spending Christmas with mates rather than family.

“Christmas will be very different to last year, we’ll still be having Christmas lunch but having a low tempo day,” she said.

“We will still be ready for anything, but have nothing scheduled.”

The day will be marked with a special dinner where the senior ranks will be serving the diggers which is a tradition of the Australian Army.

“I’ve been assured there’s pavlova and hopefully the usual Christmas fare,” she said.

Corporal Chris Linich said he was very proud of his wife who had sacrificed a lot to get to the position she now had.

“She is very professional and experience in her role as the nursing officer and having remote and rural area and intensive care experience as a civilian nurse has contributed to her being an extremely valuable member of not only our unit, but the ADF,” Corporal Linich said.

“I know she feels honoured and privileged to represent her country and she wears the uniform with much pride.”

He will be spending the day alone with his children Jacob, William and Elizabeth visiting their maternal grandparents, but may enjoy a drink with the neighbour, but has plenty of fencing and shed building to keep him busy.

“It is difficult being apart for so long,” he said.

“We communicate every day or so, but you still miss your partner’s company in many ways. Having been deployed myself, I have an understanding of Rebecca’s situation on her deployment where you are out of your comfort zone, home sick, love sick, deprived of everyday privileges people take for granted, little privacy and long hours and having to do what you’re told regardless is a strain and a sacrifice that not all can handle.”

Lieutenant Linich said she’d been busy since being deployed in November at the regimental aid post.

She said it was very different to being home because she was operational.

“There are different threats and risks that you always have to be mindful of, whereas at home it’s a friendly environment,” she said.

On Christmas Day she said she hoped to speak to her husband after attending the army’s mass in the morning.

“The Australian Army is considered family, it’s just a different take on family,” Lieutenant Linich said.

“I hope to touch base with my family back home and try not to get teary. I think it’s harder for Chris because he goes home everyday to an empty house and is cooking his own meals and everything. I think it’s harder for the people who stay home because we’re always busy and if you’re feeling a bit homesick there’s always something to keep you occupied, but for them, they’re in a house where they usually share it with somebody else.”

Corporal Linich said he missed his wife’s company and instead came home to animals, but was on a mission to get plenty done on their property outside of Tamworth while his wife was gone.

Lieutenant Linich said she was enjoying her deployment and has had interaction with the locals, which was part of the operation, which is to help maintain a peaceful environment.

She said something that really raised spirits around Christmas, but just on a normal day, too, were care packages that had arrived from all over Australia.

“It always makes you feel a bit special when you get them,” she said.

“You get excited over strange things like toiletries, biscuits and chocolates.”

Lieutenant Linich has much to look forward to next year when she returns, with her husband  promising to be waiting with a big bunch of flowers, “with much pride and anticipation to welcome home the part of me that I am dearly missing”.

“My thoughts will be with her and the diggers this Christmas and I wish them and my wife a safe return,” he said.

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