After six months deployed on ADF operations in the Middle East, Matt Fensom is looking forward to returning home to his old stomping ground of Illawong in the Sutherland Shire.
Captain Fensom has been deployed to Iraq, based at the Taji Military Complex near Baghdad, for Operation Okra as part of Task Group Taji Rotation Four a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel training Iraqi Security Forces.
There are about 300 Australians and 100 New Zealanders in the task group and he said he and his colleagues will be home in mid-2017.
"My team has trained elements of the Iraqi Army and the Federal Police," he said.
"Our focus has been on delivering training in small arms weapons, marksmanship principles, tactics, and urban operations.
"The mission we are conducting here is critical to ensuring the Iraqi Security Forces have the skills required to defeat Daesh."
Captain Fensom has also had the opportunity to take command of a mobile training team outside of Baghdad since the task group expanded its training area to reach Iraqi Security Forces who are unable to travel to the Taji Military Complex.
"I was able to travel to another base with my team and work with United States Forces to deliver our training," he said.
"Being involved in getting our training packages to elements of the Iraqi Army outside of Taji was by far the highlight of my deployment."
Originally from Illawong, Captain Fensom grew up in the Sutherland Shire and attended Aquinas College in Menai before joining the army at 17.
"I finished school in 2009 and I didn't waste any time,: he said.
"I joined the army two months later because I was looking to be part of something bigger than me.
"The army has taken me from Illawong to Canberra, then Brisbane and onto Darwin, where I'm currently posted to the 8th/12th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, and now on my first deployment to Iraq."
While the deployment has been a rewarding experience, Captain Fensom is excited to be going home to his fiancé, Vicky, and his family and friends.
"I want to thank Vicky for all her support," he said.
"I also want to thank to all my mates from Darwin and the Shire for supporting her while I've been away, it makes things a lot easier."
"I'm looking forward to seeing her and my friends, and taking the boat out on the billabong for some fishing."