LOCAL HERO: Dale McPherson touring Afghanistan in 2013.
LOCAL HERO: Dale McPherson touring Afghanistan in 2013. Contributed

Dale brings career stories back to Bluff

FROM his backyard in Bluff to the frontline in Iraq and the couch in Charlie Sheen's home, Dale McPherson has enjoyed a career dotted with memories most of us could only dream of.

Dale, who was back in Blackwater as guest speaker at the high school main awards, used the opportunity to impart some words of wisdom.

"The last time I stood on this stage, I was hiding behind the curtain as my senior class sang the school song," he said.

"I've been all around the world but I still love coming back home."

In his earlier years, Dale played for the Blackwater Devils and Bluff Rabbitohs but his toughest time in the field was when he enlisted in the Australian Army in 1991 at 18 years of age.

"I was about 14 years old when I realised what I wanted to be ... either a policeman or a solider," he said.

"As I got to Year 12 peer pressure kicked in and 90% of my friends applied for apprenticeship.

"I applied for the army and the police and said I'd do whatever came back first… and I was accepted in the army," he said.

On the bus out of Blackwater, he said he sat beside local Geoff Anderson.

"I remember the day I left Blackwater: On the bus I sat next to someone who's in the crowd tonight, Geoff Anderson. We ended up on the McCafferty's bus," he said.

"I was on my way to Brisbane all by myself and I remember Geoff said to me 'you can always come back home'.

"It was all unknown but we're all the same, that's what made it easier."

On his first leave back to Blackwater, Dale received a telegram saying he was being deployed to Somalia and, in January 1993, was sent over as part of a peace-keeping force.

"But it was full-blown war; I've never seen anything like it," he said.

"It was a steep learning curve for me, it established my career. I knew exactly what I wanted to be and where I wanted to go."

In 1996 he joined the elite SAS which, mentally and physically, was like nothing he'd experienced before.

"I was eight months in when I was withdrawn and placed in the senior squadron in Timor," Dale said.

"I was guarding General Cosgrove, who is now the Governor-General."

A highlight for Dale was in 2001, when the NV Tampa came under siege off Christmas Island.

"We were the first emergency squadron deployed… we stormed the ship and saved over 400 Afghan refugees - that was another eye opener, I had never been a part of anything like that," he said.

"We were the first unit to carry out the first Emergency Action Assault for a Counter Terrorist Unit."

Dale currently works in Afghanistan with the Australian Embassy but his career also took him to Hollywood.

"I was asked, 'do you want to go on Hilary Duff's honeymoon?', and I thought why not? Her husband was there too though," he added with a laugh.

"I went on this and the biggest threat was a camera … the paparazzi."

Dale also spent time with movie star Leonardo DiCaprio, living as his bodyguard during filming of The Great Gatsby, but his first star-struck moment came when he was sitting on a couch with Charlie Sheen.

"I was due to fly back and then got a call saying Charlie Sheen needed a bodyguard," he said.

"(I was) let in by his butler, who said Charlie was in the lounge room having a cup of coffee and watching TV," he said.

"So here I was sitting on a lounge having a coffee with Charlie Sheen watching the morning show and only two weeks earlier I was sitting on my own couch watching Two-and-a-Half Men,'' he said.

"Sometimes I have to pinch myself: I'm a kid from Bluff. I don't take it for granted."

Dale's career

1991 - Enlisted into the Australian Army, attended recruit training in Wagga Wagga, NSW

1991 - Posted to second, fourth battalion in Townsville as a rifleman

1993 - Deployed to Somalia

1993 - Awarded Infantry Combat Badge

1993 - Awarded Australian Active Service Medal

1996 - Successful in SAS selection

1999 - Deployed to East Timor

2000 - Second SAS Squad

ron, performed counter terrorism duties for Sydney Olympics

2004 - Deployed to Iraq

2008 - Tactical trainer for the Australian Federal Police

2010 - Celebrity bodyguard (Tobey Maguire, Leonard DiCaprio, Hilary Duff, Charlie Sheen, Sacha Baron Cohen)

2012 - Deployed to Afghanistan, works with Australian Embassy.

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