Former Gympie man and now Royal Australian Air Force Corporal (CPL) Ben Reed will commemorate Anzac Day in the Middle East this year as he continues a family legacy of operational service.
CPL Reed is deployed on Operation Accordion as a Personnel Capability Specialist at Australia's main operating base in the Middle East region. He will return home to RAAF Base Amberley in the coming weeks.
The former Gympie State High School student said he is on his fourth Middle East deployment after deploying twice to the region for operational support of Australian efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq and once to the Sinai, Egypt, as part of the Multinational Force Observers.
"My relatives served in Tobruk in World War II and Gallipoli in World War I, so I have a direct connection to the Middle East region," he said.
"Dad also served in Vietnam with the Army as a gunner and radio operator with 108 Battery, 4 Field Regiment, from 1967 through to January 1968.
"It's nice to reflect on both theirs, and my father's service on Anzac Day and obviously I'd prefer to be at home with my family, I'm sure all of us would, but this is part of the job and I enjoy it.
"My family has really been supportive of me being deployed over Anzac Day, but obviously this is what I signed up to do, so they're ok with it.
"This trip was a bit different for us though because we have four boys at home this time around, so it’s a bit harder on my wife.
"In her words, she's 'working her backside off' – some days are tougher than most, but she just cracks on with it all."
CPL Reed is a Personnel Capability Specialist and oversees his unit’s movements and daily administration while they are deployed in the MER.
Being deployed has not stopped CPL Reed from doing what he loves and he has played in four cricket matches over the length of his deployment.
"We've played two matches against the British, we played on Boxing Day for 'the Sands', and beat them by seven runs," he said.
"We also played against the local contractor's team (SERCO), who had previously been undefeated for a while.
"We definitely had some fun with that match, and ended up winning by about 40 runs.
"But the highlight of our 'cricket season' was the game against Officers and Senior-Non-Commissioned Officers against our team of Other Ranks.
"We won that one as well, giving us some nice bragging rights over the Officers and Senior-Non-Commissioned Officers!"
There are more than 1700 ADF personnel deployed to the Middle East region.
The ADF remains actively involved in advising, assisting and training Iraqi Security Forces in Iraq, training and advising the Afghan National Defence Security Forces in Afghanistan, maritime security operations in Middle East waters and providing operational support throughout the Middle East region.