OAM for Finley High alumni

By Southern Riverina News

Former Finley man Stephen Taylor has grown from a young country boy looking for a way out of school to recipient of the Order of Australia Medal Military Division.

Warrant Officer Class One (WO) Taylor was recognised in his citation for meritorious service to the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police in regimental leadership roles and enhancing the Military Police Dog Capability.

‘‘Warrant Officer Taylor consistently demonstrated the highest level of professionalism and devotion to the Military Police capability,’’ the citation read.

‘‘His inspirational leadership, self-motivation and commitment to continual improvement have significantly contributed to the modernisation of the Military Police and, in particular, the development of the Military Police Dog capability.’’

The 47 year-old left Finley in 1989 during his HSC at Finley High School to join the army and has risen through the ranks.

As WO, Taylor is currently on deployment to South Sudan with the United Nations Peacekeepers.

The Southern Riverina News spoke with his parents Richard and Wendy, who reside in Tocumwal.

Mr Taylor said his son was assigned the crew that helped set up the Military Dog program.

‘‘He was asked to be part of the 12 man team to help set it up,’’ he said.

‘‘He always loved dogs, particularly big dogs. There were always German Shepherds in the family.

‘‘When he started with the dogs he had full love for them and for people in general around him.

‘‘People who run the dogs now still go back to him for information and advice.

‘‘At the moment Stephen is working under a general and major, but he’s in charge of 26 personnel. There are a lot of other countries he’s working with as well.’’

During his time in the army WO Taylor has been posted to East Timor, Afghanistan, Solomon Islands and across Australia.

His registered home of residence is Canberra where his wife Nicole lives with their three children — Ashlee, Bethany and Breanna.

Due to his work, it’s hard for WO Taylor to return with his family to the area.

Mrs Taylor said it wasn’t an easy start for Stephen to enter the military.

‘‘He’d been trying for a few years to get an apprenticeship. He missed out but kept trying,’’ she said.

‘‘Finally he was told he ‘could join the army next week or you can finish HSC then join’ but Stephen didn’t want to take any risks so he decided to join the army.

‘‘His HSC wasn’t important to him at that stage. He always wanted to join the army to get out of school.

‘‘From when Stephen started in the army and how he went looking for jobs, to where he is now, I must admit I never thought it would happen and that’s why we’re proud of his achievements.’’