When Sharon Bown, nee Cooper, a young Registered Nurse from Tasmania joined the Royal Australian Air Force it was with the goal of providing humanitarian aid to the world, as a Nursing Officer. During her eleven years of service she served in East Timor, Bali and Afghanistan working to save the lives of others, but almost losing her own.
Her autobiography is a very powerful, courageous story of a very determined young woman who survived a helicopter crash that left her with a shattered jaw and broken back, while deployed in Timor.
“On the ninth day of my hospital admission I was finally allowed out of bed and introduced to the ‘old lady body’ that was now mine as I had to learn to walk again”. With grit and determination Sharon worked hard with her own rehabilitation and after five months, was able to stop wearing the back brace which had supported her for months.
When the Air force was asked to provide AME support to the evacuation of Australians following the Bali bombing in 2005, Sharon was relieved to be asked if she was ‘available to deploy’?
Following this she spent a year as an Aide-de–camp to the Chief of the Defence Force working in Canberra for Dr Brendan Nelson, during which time she received promotion to Squadron Leader.
Back in Townsville, Bown worked as a Military Support Officer, providing specific advice to ADF members and their families such as bereavement support, arrangement of military funerals and assisting with the deceased estates administration. A year into this two-year posting, Bown was asked to return to Air Force Health where her leadership skills saw her deployed to Tarin Kot, Afghanistan
Bown has written with great honesty sharing her inner-most feelings of despair, especially when children could not be saved, as well as the physical and mental effects of her accident. Some time after her return home to Australia, she was diagnosed with post –traumatic stress disorder. In 2015, Bown was discharged from the Royal Australian Air Force as medically unfit from a job she loved and which had seen her rise to the rank of Wing Commander.
I thoroughly enjoyed this inspirational story which is well written and beautifully presented on glossy pages. The inclusion of a number of quality photographs compliments the story and the last photo introduces the reader to Bown’s husband Conway, and her two sons Tiberius and Austin.
Bown continues to live in Townsville and is highly sought after to speak of her unique experiences during her service career.
Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh
One Woman’s and Peace
by Wing Commander Sharon Bown
Published by Exisle Publishing