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Justin Roberts - Kingscliff

Sand from the beaches of Kingscliff is in the Middle East with 25-year-old Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Corporal Justin Roberts.

"I deployed with sand from my beach back home," Justin said.

"It sits in a little zen garden where I work."

Affectionately known as 'Robbo' to his mates, he grew up in North Melbourne completing Year 12 at Gibson Secondary College, Victoria.

Despite his south-east Australian link and current RAAF posting to Sydney’s western suburbs, Justin enjoys the sun and beaches of the Gold Coast.

"My mother lives in Kingscliff now, and I am looking forward to getting back to the beach," he said.

"I grew up away from the coast, however I enjoy the water and miss the lifestyle."

Despite Justin's passion for the beach he hasn't learnt how to surf, yet.

"I want to learn how to surf when I get home," he said.

His goal will have to wait for another few months until he returns to Australia early next year.

Justin is employed as a Communications Electronics Technician, however his role in the Middle East is very different to what he would be doing in Australia.

"Back home, I would work on radio and cryptographic equipment," he said.

"If we need to talk to aircraft or each other in Australia we use radios and the accessory equipment.

"Over here Communication Technicians are responsible for maintaining all the links back to Australia and throughout the region.

"We look after all of the things that are behind the scenes. This includes the equipment and networks for the server we operate from."

Justin arrived in the Middle East in June and didn't expect to be as busy as he has been.

"Our operational tempo has been higher since the build-up and arrival of the Air Task Group in support of operations in Iraq."

Justin is working among a team of IT specialists to ensure Australian Defence Force personnel can communicate with each other.

"We work in a team, but look after different areas," he said.

"Communication Information Systems Controllers look after the software and equipment and we maintain the links."

This is Justin's first deployment since he joined the RAAF when he was 17, and he said he wouldn’t change anything about his career path.