Military service runs in the blood of some families, including Royal Australian Air Force Squadron Leader (SQNLDR) Stephen Grimmer, who is currently deployed to the Middle East region on Operation ACCORDION.
Although he originally wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and join the Army, he ended up following his brother into the RAAF after applying to both service's apprenticeship schemes in the early 1980s.
"It started when my brother, who was a Technologist Apprentice, was home on leave," SQNLDR Grimmer said.
"I was considering a career with Defence but I wasn't planning on commencing it when I did.
"My brother suggested an apprenticeship, and my father agreed, telling me applying would be a good experience.
"I was 15 years old at the time, and the rest, as they say, is history."
After deploying once in his previous role as a Communications and Electronics Technician, SQNLDR Grimmer is now on his first deployment as an Electronics Engineer, working as the Executive Officer of the Expeditionary Airbase Operations Unit (EAOU) at Australia's main operating base in the region, Camp Baird.
"The unit brings together personnel from more than 50 units who span almost all of the trades and specialisations in the RAAF," he said.
"Each of our personnel brings their own unique experiences and diverse backgrounds with them on this deployment, which makes it a very interesting place to work.
"Overall, the best thing about my job is the people I've met, and the opportunity to see them work as a team to achieve the unit's goal – the provision of fixed and expeditionary support to airbase operations."
This is the first rotation of EAOU, which replaced the Combat Support Unit earlier in the year. Since deploying to the Middle East, SQNLDR Grimmer and his team have implemented a number of changes to streamline their support to airbase operations.
"Over my career in the RAAF, I've seen a lot of change, the majority of which has been for the better," he said.
"Our goal is to provide the best support we possibly can. In doing so, we make things a little bit easier for people who pass through on their way to places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Although individually the changes we've made may seem small, when combined, they have impacted not only my unit's operations but also those further forward."
SQNLDR Grimmer said service in the Australian Defence Force provides many opportunities for personal and professional development – if you are willing to put in the effort.
"Every day is different. In the last three years, I've had three different jobs, each of which was interesting in their own way," he said.
"There is no chance for your career to get stale."
When he returns home to RAAF Base Williamtown, near Newcastle, later in the year, SQNLDR Grimmer is looking forward to reuniting with his wife, Fiona, and two children, Caitlin and Thomas.
Expeditionary Airbase Operations Unit personnel deployed on Operation ACCORDION support and sustain Australian Defence Force operations in the Middle East region, enable contingency operations and enhance regional relationships.
There are about 500 ADF personnel deployed on Operation ACCORDION throughout the region.