From the close-knit farming town of Boorowa, to the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan – Gunner Joshua Knight has come a long way since his dream of joining the Army.
The 26-year-old spent his childhood in the small town on the NSW south-west slopes, where he enjoyed country life and the outdoors.
Gunner Knight attended Boorowa Central School, where he took part in a variety of sports, including soccer, hockey and athletics.
After graduating from high school Gunner Knight moved to Canberra to get a taste of city life and pursue his independence.
He initially worked for an IT company before deciding to enlist in the Army, with the hope of becoming one of the soldiers he’d aspired to be since he was a child.
"Soldiers in uniform were something I’d idolised throughout my childhood, so when I was old enough I thought I may as well give it a crack," Gunner Knight said.
Since joining the Australian Defence Force Gunner Knight has served his country on several missions including Operation SLIPPER – Australia’s military contribution to the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
The end of 2014 marked the end of Operation SLIPPER, Australia’s longest operation stretching from 2001 to 2014.
During his deployment on Operation SLIPPER, from September 2012 until April 2013, Gunner Knight was positioned as a land-based air defender, playing a vital role within the Counter Rocket Artillery and Mortar (CRAM) battery and protecting crucial air assets from air weapons platforms.
Being over there performing the role I was trained to do, and being effective in protecting bases and personnel was the highlight of my time on Operation SLIPPER," Gunner Knight said.
The most difficult part of Gunner Knight’s deployment was the fact that some of his friends never returned home.
After spending seven months in Afghanistan, Gunner Knight was ready to return to his friends and family and get back to the regularities of normal life.
Now based in Canberra, Gunner Knight works on a day-to-day basis as a member of Australia's Federation Guard.
But next month he will join his fellow Operation SLIPPER veterans and be recognised at a commemorative event in Canberra.
The Prime Minister announced a nation-wide commemoration activity marking the end of Operation SLIPPER will be held on Saturday, 21 March 2015.
Commemorative events will take place around the country, giving Australians an opportunity to reflect on the service and sacrifice of our personnel – like Gunner Knight..
Gunner Knight said he is really looking forward to marching in front of his parents, Tom and Jody Mitchell.
"It gives me a chance to show my service and hardships to the public and be appreciated for the sacrifices I made," he said.