One Woman's War and Peace

One Woman's War and Peace : A Nurse's Journey in the Royal Australian Air Force

4.46 (41 ratings by Goodreads)
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In 1999, idealistic 23-year-old Registered Nurse Sharon Bown left her comfortable family life in Tasmania and joined the Royal Australian Air Force with the aim of providing humanitarian aid to the world. Through her 16-year military career she deployed on three operations, barely survived a helicopter crash, struggled to return to military service, mixed in political circles in Canberra and around the world as Aide de Camp to the Minister for Defence, and commanded a combat surgical team during some of the most intense fighting in Afghanistan. During this time, she lost her mother to breast cancer and almost lost her policeman father to a homicidal psychopath on his way to shoot dead his girlfriend but who decided to kill a cop instead. From teaching East Timorese orphans to learn English to tending to wounded Coalition soldiers choppered into her surgical team from deadly battles on the Afghan dust, Sharon's story is that of a sheltered civilian RN becoming a military Nursing Officer and a commander. Her military service was unique, varied and far-reaching but came at the cost of her physical and mental health. A broken back, shattered jaw and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are the price she has paid for a remarkable and inspirational career in the Royal Australian Air Force.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 248 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 15.24mm | 430.91g
  • Woolombi, Australia
  • English
  • 30 color photos
  • 1925335313
  • 9781925335316
  • 148,068

Back cover copy

Sometimes humorous, at times tragic, often deeply moving, Sharon Bown's story is that of a courageous, compassionate and inspirational woman who has experienced a life most of us could never imagine. 

When Sharon, as a young Registered Nurse from Tasmania, joined the Royal Australian Air Force it was with the goal of providing humanitarian aid to the world. She never imagined that, on her retirement, she would have served in East Timor, Bali and Afghanistan - working to save the lives of others, but almost losing her own.

As an Air Force Officer, she not only survived a helicopter crash that left her with a shattered jaw and a broken back, but fought back from her injuries to resume her military duties. As commander of a combat surgical team during some of the most intense fighting in Afghanistan, she made sure that the first and last sight for any Australian soldier on the operating table was the Australian flag. As a nurse, she experienced the heartbreak of losing patients, some of whom she and her team had battled for hours to save.

'Wing Commander (Ret'd) Sharon Bown's One Woman's War and Peace is a powerful, inspiring, must-read story of Anzac Spirit ... She is all of them. And she is one of us.' Lee Kernaghan OAM 

'Sharon's story is one that is rarely heard. One of Compassion, Commitment and Courage.' Mark Donaldson VC

'[This] book ... will stay with you forever. It will remind you that even in your darkest hours there is hope.' Kay Danes OAM  

'An honest and inspiring account of one woman's life in the service of her country. Sharon has experienced the lowest of lows and the highest of highs, yet in every circumstance, Sharon's amazing courage shines through.' Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK, AFK (Ret'd) 
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Table of contents




1 Officer Training School

2 Deployment to East Timor

3 Far from Home

4 Return to East Timor

5 'Mayday!' 'Mayday!'

6 Broken and Banged Up

7 Losing Mum, Losing Friends, Losing Hope

8 Working for the Minister for Defence

9 'How does that feel, Copper?'

10 Taking command and Afghanistan

11 The Darkness

12 The Dawn


Abbreviations, Acronyms and Terminology

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Review quote

"One Woman's War And Peace is truly beautiful, even in the dark and lonely times ... I dare you not to be touched or even moved after reading it through. Or even be filled with pride." -- Krystel Berger "I was moved near to tears, for she hits right where it counts and made me proud to be an Australian" * Camden Advertiser * "It's an amazing story of a sheltered civilian RN becoming a military nursing officer and a commander." * PS News * "There have been many memoirs published by males who have been on active service and their often terrible histories, but this is the first I have read by one of our female officers. It has been a privilege to share Sharon's journey and her easy style of writing made that journey an engaging one to follow" * Just So Stories * "You can feel her pain following the horrific helicopter crash that left her with a broken back and shattered jaw as well as the graphic nightmares that followed...a moving account of the sacrifices so many make." * The Weekly Times * "This important and timely book reminds us of the value and support that our veterans require, yet don't always receive." * Portland Observer * "It has been a privilege to share Sharon's journey and her easy style of writing made that journey an engaging one to follow. I urge you strongly to add this to your secondary collection or to put it on your 'to read' list for your personal edification." * Just So Stories * "inspirational" * Australian Nursing Journal * "Sharon's often traumatic story is one of great courage and compassion and highlights how service to the ADF can come at a great personal, physical, emotional and physiological cost." * Australian Defence Magazine * "Sharon's story is one which encourages and inspires readers to lead within their own lives." -- Karen Hardy "Bown is a remarkable woman...(she) is open and honest about her feelings and how she has now found some peace. Telling her story of adversity and survival clearly helps her in the advocacy in which she is now engaged. Her story will also provide comfort and help for those who have suffered injury, mental and physical, in shocking accidents while serving their country or otherwise." -- Pamela Burton * A personal view of war and peace * "This personal account displays nothing but optimism and determination to take on whatever the future held...It is a refreshing work that makes the reader aware of the determination an individual can possess to achieve an ambition to serve others. A very readable account." -- Neville Taylor * Book Review * "(a) rare insight into Australian military service from a woman's perspective" * 180-Degree Turn: Three Inspiring Career Changes *
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About Sharon Bown

Wing Commander Sharon Bown (Ret'd) completed her Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Tasmania in 1995. She joined the RAAF as a Nursing Officer in 1999. During her service, she served overseas in East Timor and Afghanistan and was the commander of a surgical team deployed to Afghanistan in 2008.
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Rating details

41 ratings
4.46 out of 5 stars
5 63% (26)
4 22% (9)
3 12% (5)
2 2% (1)
1 0% (0)
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