This Anzac Day, Lieutenant Darren Macdonald will be deployed in Iraq, half a world away from his Yackandandah home.
The 22-year old army officer is currently deployed with Task Group Taji Rotation Four – a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel that is training Iraqi Security Forces just north of Baghdad.
For the next few months he will be based at the Taji Military Complex, where he's leading a small team of experienced trainers who are instructing Iraqi soldiers and policemen in a wide range of military skills from marksmanship to infantry tactics.
"I always had the desire to join the military, and was honoured to be selected as an officer in the Royal Australian Infantry Corps," he said.
"The army has given me fantastic opportunities to see Australia and now the Middle East.
"Training Iraqis is a really rewarding job that enhances my understanding of their culture and builds their combat skills to give them an advantage to defeat Daesh.
"It is satisfying to see the Iraqis engaged in our lessons and taking on board our teaching points.
"You can see they're improving and I believe the training we're offering is making a big difference."
Growing up, Lieutenant Macdonald attended Beechworth Secondary College and played Cricket for the Yackandandah Cricket Club.
After he was commissioned as an officer at the Royal Military College, Duntroon in June 2014, he was posted to the School of Infantry in Singleton as an instructor.
From Singleton he was posted to the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment during a very busy period for the battalion and spent several months out in the field, training with his platoon.
"It has been a very busy 18 months for me but I have thoroughly enjoyed working with my platoon on a wide range of missions," he said.
"It may be somewhat difficult to be away from family and friends for a long period of time but I am extremely proud of the men and women that I work with. We know that we are assisting in the security of Australia.
"I have lived in Yackandandah all my life and visit my family and friends there when I can.
"When I am home I enjoy seeing all of my friends at the 'Bottom Pub'.”
He said it was very encouraging to receive messages and gifts from home and everyday Australians.
His personal favourite was a care package that contained soap and hand-knitted beanies from a small RSL Sub-Branch.
"I would like to thank everyone back home this Anzac Day, as they continue to support our mission in the Middle East," he said.
Lt Darren Macdonald is a member of Task Group Taji Four, a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel training Iraqi Security Forces to defeat Daesh and maintain security in Iraq.
There are about 300 Australian and 100 New Zealanders in the Task Group.