Able Seaman (AB) Matthew Featherstone grew up in the Canberra suburb of Holt. After completing year 10 he packed his bags and headed to Cerberus in the South East of Victoria to begin basic recruit training as a new member of the Royal Australian Navy.
Following recruit training, Matthew relocated to Sydney, but admits he couldn't wait get back to Canberra’s frost filled mornings, where he is now posted as a member of the Australian Federation Guard.
'I loved growing up in Holt, especially when it was cold, you'll see me wearing shorts and t-shirt when the temperature is in the minus,' Matthew proclaimed.
Acclimatising to the Middle East however mustn't have been too much of a challenge for Matthew, who deployed not once but twice on Operation SLIPPER, onboard HMAS Parramatta.
Deploying as part of Operation SLIPPER AB Featherstone was responsible for the ships weapons and any general duties, such as steering, manning lookouts and any chipping and painting.
The end of 2014 marked the end of Operation SLIPPER, Australia's military contribution to the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Matthew is among more than 34,500 Australian Defence Force personnel, Australian Government civilians and Australian Federal Police who deployed to the Middle East.
Matthew was humble in describing the highlights of the Operation for him, 'the feeling of contributing and helping out even though we weren't necessarily near the action, was inspiring'.
After an accumulative 12 months at sea Matthew knew a thing or two about cabin fever, he could not wait to berth and have a run on the basketball court with the close friends who he’d grown up shooting hoops with. He also missed the luxury of a normal night's sleep, favourite foods and of course his loving and supportive family.
At only 23 Matthew's commitment to his service and country has been outstanding, with his efforts recognised by several service medals, including the Australian Active Service Medal.
AB Featherstone's achievements as an Operation SLIPPER veteran will now be commemorated in a parade that will take place on March 21 2015.
Matthew and other Canberra based Australian Defence Force members will participate in a march along Anzac Parade to the Australian War Memorial, where a memorial service will follow. Canberran's and visitors are invited to stand alongside Matthew's proud family to attend and reflect on the service and sacrifice of our personnel.