This torn fragment of a Disruptive Pattern Camouflage Uniform (DPCU) shirt relates to the service of Lance Corporal Tim Loch of the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment (3CER) in Afghanistan as part of Operation Slipper.
Loch joined the Australian Regular Army in May 2004 and he became a sapper with the Royal Australian Engineers. He deployed to East Timor (Timor Leste) with the Australian Army between May and August 2006. In 2008 he completed a United States Marine specialist combat engineer course in North Carolina along with several other selected Royal Australian Engineers.
Loch deployed to Afghanistan with the Townsville based 3CER, serving with the Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force 2 (MRTF2) in Oruzgan Province. 3CER was heavily involved in a diverse range of engineering and counter-Improvised Explosive Device (IED) operations. His sub-unit, while in Afghanistan, was 15 Troop.
On 7 July 2009 Loch was part of a combined arms team consisting of Australian combat engineers, infantry and armoured forces escorting another formation from one patrol base to another. He was manning a MAG 58 machine gun in the cupola of a Australian designed and made Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle (PMV). Onboard the vehicle were other members of 3CER including an Explosive Detection Dog (EDD) named Bolt.
At approximately 10 am an IED detonated underneath the PMV, directly below where Loch was standing. The explosion and resultant massive shockwave broke his right femur and ankle and shattered his heel. The MAG 58 he was manning flew off the vehicle and struck him in the head instantly knocking him out as well as causing facial injuries which later required 13 stitches. Sapper Ivan Pavlovic was also wounded as a result of the IED. Sapper William Barry was standing in one of the rear hatches and he was launched from the vehicle and landed over 5 metres away when the IED detonated. The MAG 58 that Loch was manning almost hit Sapper Barry. Corporal Andrew Sichter and Sapper Barry immediately treated the wounded 3CER members and helped with their safe evacuation. This included the dangerous task of clearing a nearby area of IEDs as a safe landing zone for the aero medical evacuation (AME) flight.
Both soldiers were aeromedically evacuated within an hour of the incident and they were initially treated at Tarin Kot by the Dutch military hospital. Shortly afterwards, they were transferred to Kandahar and Loch was later evacuated to Germany where he was admitted and treated at a US military hospital in Ramstein.
Loch returned to Australia on 26 July 2009. For his swift actions during this incident and for his exceptional conduct in Afghanistan Sapper Barry was awarded a Commendation for Distinguished Service on Australia Day 2011 by the Governor of Queensland.
This shirt was cut off Loch to facilitate quick and effective treatment by Coalition medical staff. The inverted 'E' on the embroidered patch is a traditional emblem of the Engineers. The Roman 'XV' under this motif represents his sub-unit, 15 Troop.