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Leigh Dayes - Mareeba

A North Queensland man from Mareeba has left the tropical lifestyle behind to work in the Middle East on some of the most technologically advanced equipment in the world.

Craftsman Leigh Dayes is an Australian Army electronics technician serving with the Force Support Element (FSE) at Australia's main support base in the region.

The FSE provides combat service support for Australian Defence Force personnel in the Middle East region under Operation Accordion.

Operation Accordion's mission is to provide the overall command and support to other regional Australian operations, such as Operations Okra, Highroad and Manitou.

The former Mareeba Gladiators Rugby League player has the role of ensuring all electrical equipment, including critical biomedical equipment such as patient monitors, ventilators and defibrillators are well-maintained, properly configured and safe to use.

Craftsman Dayes says he finished Mareeba High School in 2006 and dabbled in university studies.

He also worked in the construction industry before he decided he needed more stimuli for his mind.

"I joined the Army in 2010 as an electronics technician because it seemed to be the most interesting trade on offer," he said.

"It's a varied job as I also inspect and maintain equipment ranging from radios and optical instruments to navigational aids and laser range-finding equipment."

Craftsman Dayes says he began his comprehensive trade training at the Army School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering which is located within the Army Logistic Training Centre in Bandiana, Victoria.

"I then spent a year doing on-the-job training in Townsville working with the 3rd Combat Services Support Battalion (3CSSB) and the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment," he said.

"I also worked with civilian electronics companies and the Queensland Police Service to broaden my experience.

"When I completed my training I was posted to 3CSSB and from there was sent to Royal Alfred Hospital in Melbourne to do the higher-level of training as a military biomedical specialist."

Craftsman Dayes says he began his deployment in the Middle East with the FSE in August and has deployed forward to work on equipment in the military hospital at Kabul International Airport and a medical facility at Camp Qargha, located north of Kabul.

"The most memorable part of the trip was the tactical helicopter flight over Kabul in a coalition Puma helicopter," he said.

"I expected the city to be small with mud huts, but the place is huge, very busy and mostly modern."

Craftsman Dayes says his work was important to him because it ensures medical staff can do their job and save lives.

"I'm proud to be a part of Operation Accordion," he said.

"Still, I am looking forward to returning to the 10th Force Support Battalion at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville and getting back to Mareeba to catch up with my family and friends who still live there."