Lifelong friends follow similar paths from kindy to the navy

TECH WORK: Two naval aviation technicians who are both able seamen and lifelong mates, Daniel Weier and Grant Hatchman, work on an MRH90 helicopter aboard HMAS Choules.
TECH WORK: Two naval aviation technicians who are both able seamen and lifelong mates, Daniel Weier and Grant Hatchman, work on an MRH90 helicopter aboard HMAS Choules. ABIS Chantell Bianchiroyal Australian Navy

WHEN Grant Hatchman and Daniel Weier met in kindergarten in Willowbank little did they know they would one day end up on the same Royal Australian Navy ship together.

Now serving aboard HMAS Choules, they joined the navy within a couple of months of each other and both went into the aviation field.

They now work as aviation technician aircraft sailors, which means they are responsible for maintaining the navy's new multi-role helicopters.

But the similarities don't stop there.

Both able seamen played soccer for Ipswich Knights, Rosewood United and Raceview United soccer clubs and were classmates at Amberley Primary and Rosewood High schools.

AB Weier said the pair had planned a holiday to the US, but had to cancel when AB Hatchman was accepted early into the navy

"Grant went first, though I was first to apply," the 26-year-old said. "He must of had connections."

Both sailors have worked with the navy's 817 Squadron, based at Nowra, NSW, and are now attached to 808 Squadron, also based at Nowra.

They are among Defence personnel taking part in the 14-day Exercise Sea Lion being conducted between Townsville and the Cowley Beach training area.

It is the first major joint amphibious exercise for the year, and is part of the Australian Defence Force's enhanced amphibious capability development.

The exercise, which began this month, had troops practising a series of skills for the first week including landing vehicles and troops on the beach.

The activity continued with a live exercise phase that revolved around the fictional country of Tropicana, which had become unstable due to terrorism.

The mission required the ADF to evacuate Australians and approved foreign nationals and also to assist the Tropicana government stabilise the country.

Commander of the Australian Amphibious Task Group Captain Ray Leggatt said amphibious operations were complex and required detailed planning.

AB Hatchman and AB Weier said they were enjoying their time aboard HMAS Choules - the navy's newest ship.

However, they were now looking forward to returning home to go skiing with their girlfriends.



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