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David Kennedy - Cairns

Growing up in Cairns in Queensland, David Kennedy had his sights set on serving with the Royal Australian Air Force from a young age.

Joining straight out of Saint Augustine's College, David commissioned into the Air Force as an Aeronautical Engineering Officer through the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) pathway.

Now, at just 23 years of age, Flying Officer Kennedy is responsible for leading a team of maintenance personnel to maintain the technical airworthiness of the KC-30A Refuelling aircraft deployed to Operation OKRA to support coalition air strike operations.

"It's my job to ensure that the scheduled and unscheduled maintenance is done safely and sustainably," he said.

"If the aircraft can't be fixed in time for the next refuelling mission, it's my job to make the engineering decision whether the aircraft can safely fly with the defect.

"I received four years of leadership and management training while I completed my engineering degree and this training enables me to make these kinds of decisions."

Flying Officer Kennedy said it was a lot of responsibility for someone of his age, but that was one of the great things about being trained by the Air Force.

"They empower their people through training and development to take on responsibilities you would never get so early in another career," he said.

"Every time the KC-30A completes its mission, I feel pride knowing that my efforts have paid off, that our team has worked together, and that we have contributed positively to the Iraqi people to enable them to take their country back from Daesh."

Flying Officer Kennedy said he joined right after school because of the opportunity to work with some of the most advanced technology in the world and give back to the country at the same time.

"I always wanted to join the ADF because I share the typical Australian values like teamwork and camaraderie that are prevalent in the ADF," he said.

After completing his degree at ADFA, he conducted training for a year with a KC-30A squadron to prepare him for deployment.

"This deployment on Operation OKRA is the pinnacle of my career so far," he said.

"Being able to apply my skills to contribute to the coalition efforts to make the world a better place is a great opportunity that I am enjoying."

The Air Task Group (ATG) of Operation OKRA, is operating at the request of the Iraqi Government within a US-led international coalition assembled to disrupt and degrade Daesh operations in the Middle East Region.