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Mitchell Clarke – Wingham

Air Force officer and Wingham lad Squadron Leader Mitchell Clarke is on his way home to see the family and have a home cooked meal after spending the past six months in Afghanistan.

At 26, Mitchell is now in his ninth year with the Air Force having completed a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) in Canberra in 2010.

"I saw the ADFA-option while I was at a careers fair in Newcastle," Mitchell said.

"I wanted to do something technical but not do what everyone else was doing, so the ADFA-option was the right fit."

This was Mitchell's first deployment and in his role as an engineer he said the chance to utilise his skills in the Coalition environment has been a highlight.

"The best part has been working with the US and the British and showing that we are a really integrated team," he said.

"We were able to work within each country’s process requirements and utilising tools from each country inside a US planning construct."

"There are of course challenges working in such a large Coalition, for instance, each nationality comes with its own planning methodology and we are required to come together and work within one framework to produce the effects that we need."

After having six months away, Mitchell is looking forward to seeing his partner, Abbey, who is also from Wingham but has been maintaining the home front back in Canberra.

"My partner, Abbey, has been really good with the deployment," he said.

"She knew that I’d have to do a deployment eventually and she's been super supportive."

"We've got a great network back in Canberra and she's been busy every weekend.

Mitchell will have some leave prior to returning to work, and Wingham is on his priority list to catch up with family and enjoy the countryside for his down time.

"I miss the laid back country lifestyle of Wingham and also the stars as I haven't seen them as bright as they are back home," he said.

"I'll spend some time back there with the family upon my return and take some time to relax."