Three Wars. Two Mates
By Jamie Zimmermann
Published by Macmillan
RRP $39.99 in hardback
This book charts Jamie Zimmermann’s evolution from a bullied boy in the suburbs to an elite soldier and team leader with the 2nd Commando Regiment of Australia’s special forces, waging war in Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. We also follow the sad story of his best mate Sergeant Brett Wood, killed in action, a mere two months after Zimmermann had promised to take care of his wife and financial affairs should the worst unfold.
We learn of the pressures on the home front and the inevitable aftershock of combat fatigue. Zimmermann makes the good point of the difference between the soldiers’ operational environment – where he describes it as a ‘highly controlled, precise job with incredible standards of accountability all the way up the ladder’ – and the less structured and sometimes chaotic world beyond.
It is afterwards, he says, when the soldiers return home that the struggles begin. The home sanctuary, for which everyone has yearned, ‘lacks the certainty of the HQ or the firebase.’ In his case, he describes the home environment as lacking an ‘operating manual for this slightly malfunctioning man’.
It has been quite a journey for Jamie Zimmermann, who came home injured in 2007, and has now made the successful transition to civvie street.
He spoke with Neil Mitchell on 3AW late last year about his book – the link is here if you would like to listen to it.