Australian School of Infantry completes 50 years of glory

The School of Infantry celebrated its 50th anniversary in Singleton on March 17 with a freedom-of-entry procession, with bayonets fixed, drums thumping, and a band performing.

The people of Singleton came out in force to see and support the more than 300 soldiers as they marched through the town centre.

On the trip, an Indigenous elder named Uncle Warren performed a smoking ceremony that cleansed and warded off evil spirits for the soldiers.

The march was stopped by the senior district police officer and two police on horses after being led by School of Infantry Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Richard Thapthimthong.

After Lieutenant Colonel Thapthimthong declared the school had permission to enter, the police allowed the soldiers to pass.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Thapthimthong, “freedom of entrance is an acknowledgement and reaffirmation of the link that a garrison’s community has with its garrison soldiers.”

After inspecting the troops, the mayor of Singleton gave Lieutenant Colonel Thapthimthong the ceremonial scroll outlining the right to freedom of entrance.

Seven years before the School of Infantry was relocated to Singleton, the first freedom of entry was held there in 1966. The sixth procession since then was held this year.

In the school’s 50-year history, tens of thousands of foot soldiers have been trained in leopard crawling, pack marching, defending, and assaulting.

Every soldier and commander has, at some point during their basic training, called Singleton home, according to Lieutenant Colonel Thapthimthong, who described the institution as the centre of the military wheel.

Australia has had numerous conflicts, domestic operations, and overseas deployments over the past 50 years, according to Lieutenant Colonel Thapthimthong.

“All of them involved infantry personnel, and they received their foundational training here at Singleton.

“The position has not altered. Hence, we will continue to train soldiers and officers in elite infantry techniques in 2023.

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