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Katherine Palfrey - Smithton

The days of milking cows and herding cattle are a distant memory for Katherine Palfrey (nee Simpson), who grew up on her family's dairy farm outside Smithton at Mawbanna.

Katherine is now serving with the Royal Australian Air Force in the Middle East, but hasn't forgotten her time on the farm.

"At the time, I used to be envious of my friends who could go out and enjoy themselves," she said.

"But looking back, it instilled me with a good work ethic and made me realise that if you want something in life you have to work hard for it. It grounded me. You don't realise how important this is until you are older"

Katherine works as a travel personnel capability specialist at Australia's main base in the region, helping facilitate personnel movements around the region and back to Australia.

In 2004 aged 17, Katherine joined the Navy.

"I thought joining the Navy would be a good opportunity and get out and see the world," she said.

After seeing the sights for four years, Katherine left the Navy and joined in the Air Force in 2008.

"I had my two boys fairly young and Navy life didn't suit having a young family," she said.

"I wanted to stay in Defence because I like the way it is structured and the opportunities it offers. The RAAF offered the family lifestyle I was after as you don't have to go away as often or for as long."

Katherine's parents are now retired from dairy farming and live in Sassafras near Devonport.

"They were very supportive of me when I joined Defence because it is a very secure job," Katherine said.

"They were initially nervous with me deploying as they didn't realise that the area I am deployed to is quite safe. I believe there apprehension has subsided since I am able to communicate with them on a regular basis."

Katherine is normally posted with the Air Force to RAAF Base Edinburgh in Adelaide where she lives with her husband, two sons and two stepchildren.

"Being away from them is the hardest part; it's like sitting in a grandstand looking at the game being played; you can cheer them on, but you're not on the field playing with them," she said.

"I miss being a mum, I miss being a wife, I miss my home but there's always light at the end of that tunnel."

Despite wanting to leave Tasmania as a teenager, Katherine looks forward to going back to see her parents as often as she can.

"When I was a teenager, you saw things on TV and in magazines and everything looked wonderful on the mainland and I couldn't wait to get there," she said.

"But after moving away you start to really miss home. Tasmania is breathtakingly beautiful and has fantastic scenery, the climate is amazing, I'm not into big city life and I like the quite country lifestyle that Tasmania offers.

Katherine is due home in May and is deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation Accordion.

This operation supports Australian Defence Force operations, contingency planning and enhanced regional relationships in the Middle East Region (MER).

From Australia's main base in the MER, about 400 ADF personnel provide support to Australian operations throughout the region, including Operations Okra, Highroad and Manitou.