When Corporal Adam Dowling was working with his father as a carpentry labourer back in 2006, little did he know that he'd eventually become a tank crew commander in the Australian Army.
Eleven years on, the 27-year old Uralla man is now an Army Corporal, deployed in Iraq with Task Group Taji Rotation Four – a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel on a training mission to support Iraqi Security Forces.
For the next few months, Corporal Dowling will be based at the Taji Military Complex north of Bagdad as part of Operation Okra – Australia's contribution to the international coalition effort against Daesh and their campaign of terror.
"As a part of my work, I'm responsible for training Iraqis," he said.
"We're helping them to defeat Daesh by improving their combat capability in areas such as weapon handling, marksmanship, dismounted tactics, medical first aid and explosive hazard awareness training.
"It's very rewarding to see the improvement in a solider you have helped to train, knowing that they'll be using those skills to maintain the freedom and security of their own country.
"What also impresses me are my Task Force colleagues.
"The members of Task Group Taji are all well-trained and we know we can depend on each other - this is what we joined the Army for."
Before his deployment to Iraq, Corporal Dowling was posted to Darwin with the 1st Armoured Regiment and served as a Main Battle Tank (MBT) crewman.
"There is nothing like being a crew commander on a M1A1 Abrams MBT," he said.
"It's great to do a job I enjoy and serve my country."
When he is not out on the range conducting training, Corporal Dowling spends his time preparing for the next day, going to the gym and listening to country music.
"We've been out here several months now," he said.
"I'm looking forward to getting back to Darwin and saying 'G'day' to the blokes back at 1st Armoured Regiment and having a cold beer.
"I'm also looking forward to taking some time out to see my family and mates back in New South Wales for a holiday."
Corporal Dowling spent much of his youth in Uralla where he attended Uralla Central School.
He also spent eight years at Tuross Head on the lower south coast.
"I was always interested in the military from a young age," he said.
"Growing up on a farm as a kid, being around firearms and earth moving equipment, I loved anything to do with tracks and guns."
His parents still live in Uralla and his best mate Corporal Garwood is based at Kapooka as a Recruit Instructor and thanked them for their support during his deployment.
Corporal Adam Dowling is currently serving with Task Group Taji 4, a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Military personnel training Iraqi Security Forces to defeat Daesh and maintain security in Iraq.