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Mark Packer - Shoalhaven

Camping and kayaking around the Shoalhaven will have to wait for Mark Packer, a Navy Aviation Warfare Officer deployed to the Middle East.

He is serving onboard HMAS Warramunga as the ship patrols Middle Eastern waters in a bid to counter smuggling and terrorism in the region.

Mark is an aircraft mission commander flying a Sea Hawk 'Romeo' helicopter from the ship to provide surveillance, reconnaissance and an overwatch for boarding operations.

"I'm the aircraft mission commander, I determine what we need to do to fulfil a mission and how we can use the aircraft and its systems to achieve that," he said.

"That could range from conducting medivacs through to detecting, tracking and even engaging surface or subsurface threats.'

"I rely on information passed to me be the sensor operator to make decisions, and on the pilot to safely put the aircraft where we need to be for the situation."

Mark says he is enjoying putting his training into practice while on operations in the Middle East.

"I love being able to apply many years of extensive training to achieve an operational outcome and know that I am contributing meaningfully to the operation.'

After growing up in Victoria, Mark worked in customer service before joining the Navy in 2007.

"The idea of flying a helicopter from a ship was pretty appealing.'

Mark now lives in Cambewarra with his wife Miranda and four-year-old son Blake.

"We love the area and all the outdoor activities,' he said.

"The whole region has great beaches, great wineries, rivers to go kayaking on, and we go camping a lot."

Mark is due home from his deployment in July this year.

He is deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation Manitou, the Australian Government's contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East region.

An enhanced security environment ensures Australia's safe and open access to the region while fostering trade and commerce.

HMAS Warramunga is the 66th rotation of an Australian Navy vessel to the region since 1990.