By NADEZDHA MAIKAU
IT is a soldier’s dream to one day become the commanding officer of an infantry battalion.
Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Kellerton is relishing the fulfilment of that dream.
“For infantry officers, it has always been a dream to be the commanding officer of either of the battalions.”
He led the battalion during the Trooping the Colour parade on March 11 in Port Moresby, one of the most lavish colourful military parades where the banner of the regiment and the Queen’s Colour are saluted by all soldiers.
It was a dream come true for the man from Divinai and Bou in Milne Bay.
Mark has six siblings and is now married to a lady from Suau Sariba in Milne Bay. She is a former employee of the Bank of PNG. They have a daughter.
Mark completed Grade 12 at the Sogeri National High School and joined the army in 1990. He wanted a career in the army.
He underwent training at Igam Barracks to become a cadet officer. He then joined the Royal Military College in Canberra, Australia, in 1995. He graduated in 1996.
He was posted to the First Battalion on his return.
“I was with the Delta Company before that. After commissioning, I became the platoon commander of Bravo Company.”
He was posted to Goldie Barracks for further training before a stint at the defence force headquarters.
His next posting was as an instructor at Igam Barracks. Then he was promoted to company commander and later as Operations Officer. He then came back to the headquarters of PNGDF.
In 2014, he was sent for a year-long deployment with the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation (UNAMID) in Dafur, Sudan.
“I was so humbled when I was sent to Sudan.”
It was a challenging time for him, being away from his family for a long time.
“ For infantry officers, it has always been a dream to be the commanding officer of either of the battalions.”
When he returned in 2015, he was posted to the 1RPIR as the battalion’s second in charge.
In 2016, he was sent to Malaysia to attend a year-long course at the staff college there.
He returned in January 2017 and was appointed Chief Instructor at the Joined Forces Academy in Lae before his promotion to his current post.
“I was humbled when the Chief of the Defence Force gave me the job of commanding officer of the 1RPIR.”
As the battalion CO, he restricted the movement of vehicles and people in and out of the Taurama Barracks. This is especially between 10pm and 6am every day to ensure safety and security within the military premises.
The exercise began on February 3 and will continue indefinitely.
Of course there are higher positions up the echelon that every career military man will aim for. But for now, he wants to enjoy being the commander of an infantry regiment – the dream of every infantry officer.