When Seaman Terrence Garside was 15 years old and pushing aircraft around on the flight deck, the idea of one day becoming a Commander within Aviation seemed like an impossible dream.
Now 40 years on, Terry from Cleveland, Queensland is now Commander Garside deployed to operations in the Middle East and in a few months' time will take up the role of HMAS Canberra's Commander Air.
The Aircraft Handler, turned Aircrewman, and now commissioned Aviation Warfare Instructor, has just ticked over 40 years in the Royal Australian Navy.
But before he can commence his new role commanding Canberra's air assets, he has an important job to do in the Middle East contributing to maritime security.
Commander Garside is currently deployed on Operation Manitou in Bahrain as the Australian Senior National Representative to the US-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
"CMF comprises 32 nations from across the globe and is focused on defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation and promoting a safe maritime environment," Commander Garside said.
The first time Commander Garside visited Bahrain was during a three-year exchange with the New Zealand Navy as Aircrew flying the Kaman SH-2 Seasprite off the back of a Kiwi frigate.
As a Leading Seaman Aircrewman in 1983, he spent six months in Al Gora, Northern Sinai, conducting Peace Keeping operations with the Multi-National Force and Observers.
He later returned to the region as the plans officer for Headquarters Joint Task Force 633 at Australia's main operating base in the Middle East, overseeing key operations, including our maritime commitment within CMF.
Today, our commitment to CMF continues under Operation Manitou with a Major Fleet Unit (MFU) deployed to the region in direct support of Combined Task Force 150 – CMF's maritime counter terrorism force.
Currently that MFU is HMAS Newcastle.
When a vessel of interest is identified for HMAS Newcastle to board, or when Newcastle exercises with another nation's ship – Commander Garside is the key point of contact.
"With so many nations involved here, for CMF to be effective, all participating nations need to be networked correctly," he said.
"My job is to be the conduit between those other nations; I am the link between key personnel when Australian military assets are involved."
While Commander Garside's previous experience in the region has helped in his role as Senior National Representative, his aviation knowledge is also proving to be useful.
Over the course of his career he has flown in almost every helicopter type commissioned by the Navy including the UH-1 Iroquios, Westland Wessex, Squirrel, Bell 206B, SH2-G Seasprite and Augusta 109.
He has also operated in fixed wing aircraft including the Super King Air and Hawker Siddeley HS 748.
Commander Garside is imparting his knowledge to assist CMF's planning, which includes the operation of embarked aviation assets used to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance to identify suspicious vessels.
He said the opportunity to learn from other nations and to utilise his experience and knowledge is a key benefit of Australia's commitment to CMF.
"It is an important opportunity to interact with other nationalities, to learn from each other and to improve processes while contributing to a mission that benefits the entire international community."
"I will use the experiences gained within the operational CMF environment to develop professionally."
Looking back on his 40-year career in the Navy, Commander Garside is still somewhat amazed that he will soon commence the position he previously thought to be out of reach.
"As a Seaman back in 1978 I was pushing aircraft on the flight deck of our aircraft carrier and as the Commander Aviation walked past I thought reaching such a position was unachievable.
"However, in the Royal Australian Navy the world is literally your oyster with unparalleled opportunities."
There are about 200 ADF personnel deployed on Operation Manitou in the Middle East region predominately based on HMAS Newcastle and in various headquarters positions embedded with CMF.