Stawell woman Andrea Hateley has continued the proud tradition of Australian soldiers serving in overseas battle following her involvement in the military combat against Islamic State.
The Middle Eastern battlefield is a stark difference from the quiet streets of Stawell, but Ms Hateley said she relished the challenges.
Celebrating 15 years service in the Air Force she has been deployed as part of the Air Task Group for Operation OKRA.
“I have had some amazing experiences and travelled the world with the Air Force,” she said.
“From conducting disaster relief in Vanuatu, naval exercises with the United States in Hawaii, air combat exercises with the Royal Malaysian Air Force in Butterworth (Malaysia) and three deployments in the Middle East, my roles have been so different.”
Flight Lieutenant Hateley reflected on the upcoming Anzac Day and said she was fortunate to live in Australia.
“We are a lucky country and working in the Air Force has allowed me to make a difference in the world,” she said.
“Seeing what our team is achieving over here has been a very satisfying and rewarding experience.”
Flight Lieutenant Hateley is deployed as the Staff Officer to Commander Air Task Group, Air Commodore Michael Kitcher.
He commands up to 350 personnel, eight F/A-18 Hornets, a KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Refueller aircraft, an E-7A Wedgetail command and control aircraft, and Australian personnel in airspace control agencies managing Iraq and Syria.
“His role is very demanding and anything I can do to assist him and make his job easier is important,” Flight Lieutenant Hateley said.
“He is required to make some very tough decisions and my job is to make sure that he has everything he needs in order to make those decisions efficiently.”
Operation OKRA is operating at the request of the Iraqi government within a US-led international coalition, assembled to disrupt and degrade Islamic State.
Deployed personnel will commemorate Anzac Day with a dawn service alongside their coalition partners.