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Danny Gusthart - Kingaroy

When the members of the Kingaroy RSL heard that one of their own was deploying to the Middle East Region, they jumped at the chance to put in a request to hang a piece of history on their walls.

Flight Lieutenant Danny Gusthart is deployed to the Air Task Group of Operation OKRA in the Middle East Region.

Danny's role is to provide operations support to the F/A-18 Super Hornets flying attack missions in support of the Iraqi Security Forces in their battle against Da'esh.

Danny joined the Air Force in 2007 as an Air Traffic Controller, now called a Joint Battlefield Airspace Controller, after graduating from Kingaroy State High School and spent three years studying at the Australian Defence Force Academy before completing his controller training course.

He has deployed to the Air Task Group as an Operations Officer (OPSO) and has additionally spent time working with the Coalition in the Combined Air and Space Operations Centre.

Working closely with the aircrew in his OPSO role, Danny approached Air Force pilot, Flying Officer Ben to see if he would help him grant a special request for the Kingaroy RSL.

"Ben had the opportunity to take an Australian flag during one of his missions," Danny said.

"Ben was really excited about the opportunity as his grandfather flew a Beaufighter out of Kingaroy in World War II, so it's great that the link is there for both of us.

"It means a lot to me to be able to save that piece of history and know that it will be displayed back in my hometown for everyone to see.

"It will be a great reminder of my deployment here in the Middle East whenever I go back home to visit."

The role of an Operations Officer on a deployment like Operation OKRA is a constantly changing and challenging environment.

"My job here is very different to what I normally do back in Australia," Danny said.

"While deployed, I provide live mission support to the aircrew whilst they're flying their missions over Iraq and Syria to provide Close Air Support (CAS) to security forces who are liberating their country from Daesh.

"We provide support to the Super Hornets, the KC-30 refueller and the E-7 command and control aircraft.

"I also conduct post-mission reporting for all the aircraft flying as part of the Australian Air Task Group."

Danny said this deployment has been very personally rewarding.

"This has been such an amazing experience and I've made lots of new mates working with our coalition partners here," Danny said.

"Knowing that I have helped the Iraqi's liberate their country from the terrorist control of Da'esh is something that I'm really proud of.

"It's great knowing that every time I visit my parents and brother back in Kingaroy I'll be able to go to the local RSL and see the flag hanging up on the wall as a reminder of what we have achieved in Iraq."

The Australian flag which will be presented to the Kingroy RSL was flown on an operation mission over Iraq where a Da'esh fighting position was targeted with a GBU-31 2000-pound guided munition.