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Face of Defense: Australia Rotation Feels Like ‘Welcome Home’

By Marine Corps Sgt. Sarah Fiocco
Marine Rotational Force Darwin

ROBERTSON BARRACKS, Australia, June 27, 2013 – For most Marines who arrived in Australia’s Northern Territory a few months ago as part of Marine Rotational Force Darwin, the local culture has been a foreign concept.

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Marine Corps Sgt. Ian Polhamus poses in front of an Australian flag June 27, 2013, during his deployment to Marine Rotational Force Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory. While growing up, Polhamus lived in Australia for seven years. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Sarah Fiocco

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

From the accents and wildlife to the traffic laws and climate, it was clear they had traveled far from home.

But for Marine Corps Sgt. Ian Polhamus, a squad leader with 3rd Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, this rotation has not felt like a deployment at all. To him, it feels like a welcome home.

“Back in 1990, my dad was in the Air Force,” Polhamus explained. “He was stationed about 150 kilometers from Adelaide, South Australia. We lived here for about seven years. I was very excited when I found out we were going to Australia. I came back to the place I grew up. This is where I have all of my childhood memories. It was a big part of my life.”

Some of Polhamus’ fondest memories of Australia are from the small town where he lived.

“I grew up right in the Outback, so there were no big trees like there are here. It’s basically desert,” he said. “I would ride my dirt bike and chase kangaroos with my Australian shepherd dog. Then we would come back and have a barbecue with the neighbors.”

After spending years of his life in places such as Queensland, Sydney, Darwin, and his favorite, Brisbane, Polhamus returned to the United States, where he found adjusting back to the American lifestyle tricky.

“I came back with a strong accent, and I pronounced certain words differently,” he said. “I learned different words for things -- like the bathroom was called the toilet or a dunny.”

Since his return to Australia, family friends, including his childhood babysitter, have visited him. Having these visitors gave him the opportunity to share what he believes is the best part of the country with his fellow Marines, Polhamus said.

“My favorite part of Australia is the people. They’re really friendly,” he added. “It’s what makes the experience. We’ve taken the Marines around the area. It’s really fun to just go out there and let them see a little bit of where I grew up.” 

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