The Adventurous Life of Raymond Trembath, a Warrior's Journey.
Raymond "Trem" Trembath, a man born into a legacy of warriors, embarked on a life story that could rival the plot of any action-packed movie. Born in 1955, his destiny seemed preordained by a family lineage entrenched in military service, stretching from World War I to the conflicts of the late 20th century.
"I'd always wanted to be in the army since I was about 6," Trembath reminisced, recalling his childhood shaped by the constant reel of war movies that flickered across TV screens every Friday. His roots were entrenched in a military tradition, and the yearning to follow in his family's footsteps became his lifelong passion.
Trembath's journey took an unexpected turn when he ventured into the French Foreign Legion, a decision sparked by a chance encounter with a friend who had deserted from the Legion on his way to Nicaragua. "He planted a seed," Trembath said, which eventually led him to his "hard case" beginning in the Legion.
Leaving behind 12½ years of service in the New Zealand Army in 1986, Trembath sought adventure and found himself enlisting in the elite parachute regiment of the Legion in 1989. His odyssey with the Legion saw him deploying to Chad, Somalia, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and beyond, seeking not just combat but a role in stabilizing French-friendly governments in turbulent regions.
"It's not necessarily going in there to blatantly fight; it's more about going in there to maintain the stability of a French-friendly government," Trembath elucidated, shedding light on his motivations for joining the Legion.
His time in the Legion was a cocktail of tough training, exhilarating action, and the grim reality of casualties. "It's alright shooting targets, rabbits, and deer, but when the targets, rabbit, and deer shoot back, it's even more fun," he remarked, underlining the adrenaline-fueled nature of his experiences in active war zones.
Despite the dangers, Trembath reveled in the thrill, particularly during Operation Restore Hope in Somalia in 1992, where he and his fellow legionnaires were tasked with securing the perimeter of the airport.
But Trembath's story isn't just about battles and bullets; it's also about the human connections formed amid the chaos of conflict. "You actually learn a lot about people by talking to them," he reflected, acknowledging the lessons learned in the diverse landscapes he traversed.
Looking for a new challenge, in 1999 he tramped the length of the North Island and most of the South via the mountain ranges that run down the spine of NZ. He even stopped an artillery live-firing exercise when he walked into Waiouru through the training area! Calling on friends along the way, he would stay in DOC huts or under the stars in a hootchie.
His life wasn't solely a soldier's tale. Trembath dabbled in civilian work, spending five years as a contract surveyor on various significant projects in New Zealand. Yet, fate often lured him back to the military's embrace. One chance encounter that drew him back into soldier’s clothes. Was the case on Anzac Day in 2000 when an officer he knew told him they were taking troops to East Timor.
“So two days later I was back in the New Zealand Army, reinstated with my rank of corporal and about a year later I was off to Timor.”
Raymond Trembath's life was a mosaic of experiences, marked by resilience, adventure and duty. He spent 42 years and a day linked to the military in some form. Sadly Trem passed away aged 67,on August 30 2022.