Lance Corporal Samuel Puke with the Regimental Award after the recent Junior Non-Commissioned Officer course parade at Burnham Military Camp

Soldier follows family tradition

by Mike Isle

A simple question can change the course of your life, and it did so for Lance Corporal Samuel Puke who was 19 and at a loose end after finishing high school when a friend asked, “Why don’t you just do what your dad did?”

His father, Sergeant Larnie Puke, had served from 1985 to 2001 in the New Zealand Army’s Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, so Samuel sought out similar service, and it became a family affair.

Born in Lincoln, Lance Corporal Puke started his intermediate education at Darfield High School, before moving to school in Brisbane.

Now he is one of the army’s newest Junior Non-Commissioned Officers and recently completed 11 weeks of leadership training at Burnham Military Camp to receive the Regimental Award for high standards on the course.

Family ties to the military are strong with his brother, Private Josh Puke, in the same platoon, and extended family member Warrant Officer Class 1 Douglas Puke serving in the reserve force.

A keen rugby player he loves that the army requires soldiers to maintain peak physical health.

“Getting paid to keep fit is an amazing part of the job,” he said. “After six years, I still can’t believe I get paid to go to the gym.”

Lance Corporal Puke is looking forward to being back in the platoon at Burnham and seeing where his new leadership skills will take him next.

“What I’ve found is that if you put in the effort, nine times out of 10, you’ll do well, and on the occasions where things don’t go how you expect there’s always a learning experience to help you next time,” he said.