When Lance Corporal Mitch Bowman left Newcastle NSW to join the Australian Army in 2010 he had no inkling he would be deployed to Iraq as part of international coalition against Daesh and their campaign of terror.
This Anzac Day, the 28-year old infantry soldier will be working alongside Iraqi Security Forces as part of Task Group Taji Four – a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel that's training to the Iraqis.
For the next few months he is based at the Taji Military Complex just north of Baghdad, as part of Operation Okra – Australia's contribution to the international coalition effort to defeat the Daesh terrorist group.
LCPL Bowman is a section commander, providing force protection to Australian and New Zealand Soldiers.
"My job involves providing and ensuring a safe and secure area for our Task Group to train the Iraqi soldiers," he said.
"I also provide protection to senior officers when they go out to meet their Iraqi counterparts.
"I know the training we are providing here to the Iraqis is important.
"It's helping to defeat Daesh and enable life in Iraq to return to some regularity, so I feel the mission we are conducting here is making a difference.
"Serving my country is a great passion of mine and gives me a feeling of honour."
Lance Corporal Bowman says he joined the Army in 2010 after looking for a job he knew he could be proud of.
"I did some research on the military and I realised that the infantry was for me," he said
"It's hard being away from friends and family but it's all part of the job.
"I grew up in Newcastle and my family still live there, it is a great location with amazing beaches and great pubs.
"Back in Newcastle, there is always something to do, and I'm looking forward to my return home to see my family and friends again, even though it is a few months away."
Lance Corporal Mitch Bowman is a member of Task Group Taji Four, a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel training Iraqi Security Forces to defeat Daesh and maintain security in Iraq.
There are about 300 Australian and 100 New Zealanders in the Task Group.