As a teenager Michael Snushall could be found waxing his surfboard on the beach at Port Kembla.
Years later, the grown-up Michael Snushall can be found oiling weapons among Middle Eastern sand dunes.
Corporal Snushall works as an armourer with the Expeditionary Airbase Operations Unit, keeping a technical eye on small arms at Australia's Main Base in the Middle East.
"I'm looking for faults, repairing them and getting them back online," he said.
"During an inspection we're mainly looking at the gauging, a lot of it is visual."
The Air Force fitter and turner is responsible for many of the small arms used on Operation Accordion.
"People know I've checked the weapons to be safe," he said.
"It's green or red, there's nothing in the middle, you can either use it or you can't.
He qualified as a fitter and turner before serving in the Air Force from 1989 – 1995, and then re-joined the service in 2001.
Despite going on to live all over the country, the born-and-bred Port Kembla lad still has a soft spot for his favourite beach.
"Port Kembla doesn't get the rave reviews it should," Corporal Snushall said.
Unfortunately, North Wollongong gets it all because of the hotels and it's close to the city."
Among Corporal Snushall's treasured memories of the region are those of his grandmother Florence, who passed away in her Mount Ousley home two years ago after reaching 100 years of age.
"Nanna made the big tonne, she got her letter from the Queen and lasted about a week after that; she only just got over the line," he said.
"She lived in the house my pop build with his blood, sweat and tears; she was there right till the end.
"Her birthday was great but you could tell she didn't like all the fuss."/p>
After arriving in the Middle East this April, Corporal Snushall is due home soon when his six-month deployment is complete.
"It's the little things you miss; like walking the dog or getting in your car and driving down to the shops," he said.