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Like father, like son

FATHER and son reunions can happen in the most unusual places.

On his second deployment to East Timor, Australian Federal Police (AFP) chaplain and deacon Gary Stone recently caught up with son Major Michael Stone who has been in East Timor since September 2004 with the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) Defence Co-operation Program (DCP).

“We are more like mates than father and son,” Deacon Stone said about Michael, who has been operating as a liaison officer between the ADF, other security forces and the community, especially as a spokesman at major events advocating peace, stability and conciliation.

“I am proud of Michael” Deacon Stone said.

“He is living his Christianity in a practical way, facilitating peace and reconciliation between disparate groups and representing the best qualities of an Australian soldier.”

Deacon Stone, from The Gap in Brisbane, has been a chaplain with the AFP since January 2005.

He served with the ADF for 26 years, before he become an army chaplain and served a further 11 years based at Enoggera.

He remained a chaplain in the army reserve on top of his duties with the federal police.

As a police chaplain, he has deployed regularly to East Timor and the Solomon Islands visiting federal police deployed to those countries.

He was there as a soldier in 2000 when a group of priests on the Timorese border convinced him to become part of the organisation Friends and Partners of East Timor, and he returned with wife Lynne and son Michael in 2004.

Deacon Stone has since returned as a chaplain seven times and said he considered himself fortunate to be able to contribute to the development of the fledgling nation.

“We believe in this charity work and that we should love our neighbours as we love ourselves,” he said.

“It is a long road for the Timorese to establish themselves as a nation and we need to be committed to a partnership with them for a very long time.”

Michael also had a history of visiting East Timor, serving with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR), between December 1999 and January 2000, and again with 2RAR between September 2001 and January 2002, as well as a family visit with Friends and Partners of East Timor in April 2004.

Michael said he believed to be truly effective in working with a foreign nation one must embrace the culture of the country and appreciate their history.

Both father and son said it was “great” to catch up and each said they admired the professionalism of the other.

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