An Australian Navy sailor, who returned home to Fitzroy Crossing as part of the ADF contingent tasked with assisting flood recovery, has told of the emotional home-coming and her family’s reaction as she stepped out of an Army MRH-90 Taipan helicopter. Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Teneille Francis returned to Fitzroy Crossing on January 18 during the Army’s Community Open Day, stepping out of an Army MRH-90 Taipan helicopter to meet surprised family members on Fitzroy Oval, who had not been told she was coming. The surprise arrival was met with smiles and tears as the sailor reunited with members of her extended family Leading Seaman Francis’ grandmother, Bunuba Elder Mary Aiken was overcome with emotion as her granddaughter disembarked the helicopter and embraced her. “I didn’t know anything,” Mrs Aiken said. “So, this came as a complete, but very welcome, surprise.” “They all did well keeping that one a secret,” her grandfather, Bill Aiken, said. After taking part in a smoking ceremony organised by her grandmother, Leading Seaman Francis said she looked forward to liaising between the Defence contingent and the local communities she grew up with. “I know, from talking to family and friends, that these floods have impacted a lot of people, so I’m keen to play a role within the Defence contingent in any way I can,” she said. Air Force Indigenous Liaison Officer Flight Lieutenant Tramaine Dukes said having someone on hand who grew up in the community would help the Defence Force’s recovery effort. “Bringing Leading Seaman Francis into the team, with her local knowledge and connections, will strengthen our engagement efforts,” he said. Leading Seaman Francis joined the Navy in 2017 and since then has been posted to the HMAS Adelaide and the HMAS Cairns, following in the footsteps of her grandfather who was a reservist in the North-West Mobile Force Kimberley Squadron during the 1980s.