FEATURE: Buxton soldier looks back on his ‘dream’ army career

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After a lifetime in the army, one soldier is not ready to hang up his boots just yet.

Staff Sergeant Robert Browne, from Buxton, made the front page of the Advertiser in December 1990 when he wrote home from the front line in the Gulf.

The 49-year-old has done seven operational tours and now spends his time recruiting new soldiers.

Rob said: “I have had a dream career and want people to know that the army can offer a world of adventure to the right people.”

He joined in April 1987 after doing several jobs around the town but wanted more.

“I wanted a trade and a skill so after basic training, became a vehicle mechanic.”

Robert, who was a member of the Queen’s Dragoon Guard, was posted to Germany for three years in the late 80s and was there when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

He also spent some time in Norway doing arctic survival training where he had to camp out in -50 degree temperatures. “I’m from Buxton so was used to the cold weather,” he joked.

While in the Arctic Circle he was asked if he wanted to go to Cyprus for two weeks to learn to parachute.

“And of course I said yes, it was really cold up there!”

Robert made 12 jumps and said it was the scariest experience of his army career.

“It is not natural to jump out of a plane and I didn’t like it, but bravado kicks in and you can’t be the one who doesn’t do the jump,” he admits.

During one of the jumps the plane lost a wheel and after landing was damaged so the troops had a few days rest before heading north again.

Another scary moment for the sergeant was horse riding in the Rocky Mountains in Canada, where he was posted for three years.

“My horse stood on a thick branch and it cracked loudly which spooked the horse and it bolted.

“I’ve driven a motorbike at 170mph through the desert, but this was scarier because I had no control of the horse as it ran through thick forest, and trees were hitting me in the face all the time.”

After 22 years service he extended his career and became a recruitment officer

“Training makes you feel ready”

With tours in both Gulf Wars, Bosnia, and Afghanistan, Robert said he was ready for whatever came his way through good training.

He said: “The army provides new soldiers with the best possible training and when you go on an operational tour there is additional training and support to make sure everyone is ready.

“When you are being shot at by a tank there isn’t time to think about what is going on.

“War is a very surreal environment to be in and it is only after, when you are safe, does the fear kick in, but by that point you are safe.”

Robert would recommend being in the army to anyone and said that there is nothing like travelling and seeing the world rather than being stuck in an office all day. He added: “There are a lot of career choices people don’t think about in the army, such as chefs or musicians.”
An army recruitment drive will take place at Buxton job centre on Monday January 11, 18 and 25.