The Central Coast's Nathan McLean will soon exchange the brown sands of the Iraqi desert for the white sands of his Central Coast home after six months serving on ADF operations in the Middle East.
The 27-year old Army Corporal has been deployed with Task Group Taji Rotation Four, a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel training the Iraqi Security Forces to prepare them for their fight against Daesh.
Located just north of Baghdad at the Taji Military Complex for Operation Okra, Corporal McLean has spent the last six months providing transport and logistic support to the task group.
"My job is to manage the entire Anzac vehicle fleet including servicing, vehicle inspections, paperwork, and arranging any repairs that need to take place," he said.
"I also manage the admin for the four soldiers in my team and drive a bus or truck in support of the training teams."
With varied day-to-day job, Corporal McLean's favourite part of the day is assisting the training teams on the range.
"I help the trainers take some of the Iraqis for lessons and this is, without a doubt, the highlight of the deployment," he said.
"Watching them learn new skills, their willingness to learn and how keen they are to prove themselves has been an amazing experience."
"The work we are doing with the Iraqis is fantastic.
"At the end of a lesson when the Iraqis look at you and said 'shukran', which is 'thank you' in Arabic, you know that small piece of knowledge we passed on meant the world to them."
Growing up on the Central Coast, Corporal McLean attended Nayara Valley High School.
Playing rugby league for the Woy Woy Roosters and Kincumber Colts are among his favourite childhood memories.
"Some of the best times were playing footy on the weekends or spending a whole day in the surf and then regretting it due to sunburn for the next few days," he said.
"The boys would always have a good laugh at me the next day and then we'd do it all over again the following weekend."
After receiving regular updates from home, Corporal McLean is looking forward to getting back to his friends and family in Gosford and catching up what he has missed.
"Everyone back home has been great during my time away but especially my mum, she was nothing but positive and supportive," he said.
"She always sent over little care packages and letters telling me what everyone was up to back home.
"I would never have guessed how much a care package would mean to me - some Tim Tams or a photo of my nieces and nephews could change my perspective on my whole day.
"Now I can't wait to get home and have a beer with my mates at the Central Coast Leagues Club, and just head down to the beach."
Corporal McLean and his 300 Australian and 100 New Zealand colleagues will return home in mid-2017.