Fresh memories of conflict

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For Bradley Bridgman memories of serving in a conflict zone are fresh.

The 37-year-old served in a peacekeeping capacity in East Timor and Kosovo.

Mr Bridgman said he had respect and admiration for the service veterans gave to New Zealand.

On Anzac Day he marvelled at the number of service medals on display marking the dedication of the district’s residents.

“I think for me Anzac is just about the people that have gone before you,” Mr Bridgman said.

the town, decided to join the army after leaving school.

When serving in a peacekeeping capacity, a philosophy that focused on everyday reality had served him well, he said.

“At the end of the day you’re fighting for the person beside you. It’s not about some General in Wellington dishing out orders,” he said.

The army provided the opportunity to make lifelong friends, he said.

Even though he might be touch with with his army friends only occasionally, they resumed the friendship where they off, he said.

Not taking anything for granted was a lesson he had learned in the army.

When people were displaced by conflict and families were scattered, it brought into sharp contrast how good life was in New Zealand, he said.

In East Timor the devastation was widespread and residents had to rebuild their lives.

His reasoning for joining the armed forces was simple.

“I just didn’t want to go to university,” he said.

He underwent the officer recruitment process and was accepted.

Then came a training stint at Waiouru.

assignment, followed by a stint in Kosovo.

Joining the army was a culture shock but he did not think getting used to the army lifestyle had been as hard for him as for those from city backgrounds.

The experience changed how he he looked at life, he said.

He spent more than five years in the army.

He was about 24 when he left the army, he said.

Now he works at Fonterra’s Edendale plant as an electrician.

Mr Bridgman will be officiating at the Gore dawn service.