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Yikang Feng - Sydney

In 2010, Yikang Feng gave up the lifestyle of stockbroker in Sydney to become an officer in the Australian Army.

Now, seven years later, he is serving in Iraq on Operation Okra for his second deployment to the war-torn country in just two years.

This Anzac Day, Captain Feng is deployed with Task Group Taji Rotation Four – a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel that’s training Iraqi Security Forces north of Baghdad.

He's the only member of the Task Group on his second 'tour' – he deployed to the same location in 2015 with Task Group Taji Rotation One.

"When I was here in 2015, we were training the Iraqi Army for the Battle of Ramadi," he said.

"It was a tremendously difficult time for the Iraqi Army and this time around, their morale has improved.

"I am genuinely impressed by the progress of the Iraqi Security Forces since 2015.

"There's a quiet confidence among their soldiers and the desire to grow as a professional Army."

For the next few months, Captain Feng will be deployed at the Taji Military Complex, where he's the Second-in-Command of one of the training companies.

His role is to lead a group of experienced trainers who are instructing Iraqi soldiers and policemen in a wide range of military skills from marksmanship to infantry tactics.

"I was the Platoon Commander of the Force Protection Platoon last time I was here," he said.

"This time around, my role has changed significantly but it's equally satisfying.

"My role as a liaison officer involves enabling and facilitating the training package we deliver, and, on top of that, ensuring the daily operation of the company runs smoothly."

One of his most memorable moments took place recently, when his training team finished an exhausting training task and returned to base after dark.

"It was the final assessment for a large group of policemen," he said.

"We started early in the morning and didn't stop all day.

"As I was giving the patrol debrief, the sunset glowing at the background. I looked at all my trainers, sunburnt, dirty and exhausted and I felt immensely proud knowing we had done our best.

"It is such an honour to serve with these guys."

After growing up in Shanghai, Captain Feng moved to Australia at the age of 18 to pursue his education.

He went on to work as a stockbroker for major banks before joining the Army Reserve.

"I enlisted as an infantry soldier in the Army Reserve out of curiosity, I wanted to find out more about military life," he said.

"I made the decision to transfer to the regular army while I was deployed to Rifle Company Butterworth in Malaysia.

"What really attracted me was the military lifestyle - it's simple and noble, and its given me the opportunity to serve Australia.

"I am grateful that Australia has given me fantastic opportunities to grow as a person and I want to give back to Australian society."

After he was commissioned as an army officer at the Royal Military College - Duntroon in 2011, Captain Feng was posted to the 1st Battalion, then the 8th/9th Battalion followed by the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.

"It was a very busy couple of years in the regiment, but I learnt a lot," he said.

"For me, battalion life will always be a fond memory."

While it is difficult to be away from family and loved ones for long periods of time, Captain Feng says he has settled well in Iraq.

"I brought my sketch book with me," he said.

"I bring my sketch book everywhere I go.

"I did couple of paintings last time I was at Taji, and I noticed how much it had changed when I returned.

"I also play cello as a hobby, but I haven't touch my cello for so long my fingers feel itchy.

"So I'm really looking forward to going home and playing some music."