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Ryleigh Egan - Manly

Corporal Ryleigh Egan knew what he wanted to do from a young age and set about pursuing his goal as soon as he could.

"I joined the Australian Army when I was 17 years old," said the now 23-year-old Section Commander.

"I spent my childhood playing 'Army Men' and have always seen myself doing a physical job so it all made sense."

For Cpl Egan, the soldier's life has certainly delivered everything he thought it would.

"Every day in the Army you are trialled and tested but the sense of fulfilment you get when you complete something you throught was hard or impossible is the greatest feeling.

Cpl Egan is deployed to Iraq as part of Task Group Taji 6 providing force protection to the 400-strong combined Australian and New Zealand Task Group located at the Taji Military Complex, North Baghdad.

This deployment is another high point in a career that has delivered the adventure and challenges Cpl Egan was looking for.

"I've worked in Hawaii as part of the combined joint naval exercise, I've been on exercise in Indonesia and now this deployment.

"Working with our Kiwi brothers and sisters has been a great part of this tour.

"Another highlight of my career has been playing cricket with Army in Pakistan and playing for the Australian Defence Force team in England."

Cricket is another childhood passion for Cpl Egan, who grew up in Manly playing in backyard and neighbourhood competitions.

"We had a tight-knit neighbourhood so there was always some form of competition going on.

"I was heavily involved with the local cricket club, Wynnum Manly District Cricket Club growing up."

It's that same sense of community that has been a big part of this deployment for Cpl Egan, who has been touched by the outpouring of generosity of people back home sending care packages, home made quilts and laundry bags.

"I want to send a special thanks to all those that have sent us care packages while we've been here.

"I can honestly say that we all get a little excited when we get them and they really make our day when they arrive."