Warrant Officer Class Two Ken Roberts did not set out to join the Army when he accompanied a friend from St George to Brisbane in 1986. However, more than 30 years later and half a world away in Iraq, he has no regrets.
"I joined the Army on the 15th April 1986, almost by accident," said WO2 Roberts, Company Sergeant Major of Task Group Taji 6's Logistics Company, based in the Taji Military Complex, North Baghdad.
"I travelled to Brisbane with a school friend Peter Watson who had a prearranged interview with recruiting. While I was waiting in the foyer, an Army Officer began telling me about the opportunities Army offered.
"Before I knew it, I had signed up," he added.
In the 32 years since that day, WO2 Roberts has deployed to East Timor, twice to Afghanistan and now to Iraq as a Recovery Mechanic with the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Corps.
"My primary role is a recovery mechanic, operating heavy salvage vehicles to recover stricken vehicles and equipment and get them to a place where they can be repaired or back loaded," said WO2 Roberts of his day-to-day role.
"My job on this deployment is Company Sergeant Major for the Logistics Company. Our company has elements of transport, supply and workshop.
"My main role here is maintaining discipline, training and welfare among the members of our logistics team here in Iraq," he adds.
While this is not his first deployment, this has been a great experience for the St George born-and-bred WO2 Roberts.
"The opportunity to travel overseas and working with coalition forces has been a highlight,"
"One thing I've enjoyed with this deployment is the opportunity to meet and work alongside the New Zealand members of our contingent.
"The mateship you develop and experiences you share stay with you for life," says WO2 Roberts of his time on deployment.
Despite all deployment has to offer, WO2 Roberts is looking forward seeing his wife Gillian and three children, Rebekah, Luke and Andrew as well the little things of home when he returns to Australia later in the year.
"I'm most looking forward to seeing my family and catching up with mates when I get home,"
"Even though I left St George in the 1986, I still refer to it as my home. My sister, Karen Beardmore with her husband Murray and family still reside there and I enjoy visiting when I can
As for the future, WO2 Roberts plans to settle back to a routine in Townsville, where he is currently posted to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment.
"When I return to Australia, I am posting to the Capability Acquisition Sustainment Group. This will be the pinnacle of my time with Army, working on future equipment for the next generation," says WO2 Roberts.
"The opportunity for up skilling and advancement is endless, if you are willing to apply yourself and have ambitions
"I encourage anyone looking for a rewarding career to investigate the options Defence has to offer.