IN THE FORCE
GRAFTON SOLDIERS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
IT MAY be hostile territory, but two Grafton soldiers were glad to see a friendly face during a deployment with the Australian Defence Force to the Middle East.
Sarah Conway-James and Emily Ford ran into each other when Sarah arrived at Australia’s main base in the region in early December.
“One of my sisters told me Em was going to be here and I saw her on my first day, I was thinking ‘yay! I know someone’ – it was good to see a familiar face,” Sarah said.
The two are family friends who grew up together in the Grafton area and moved away after finishing school.
Emily worked in the Grafton pharmacy before travelling to Nepal then returned home and joined the Army.
“The army always advertised that you would travel the world; so I though ‘sweet, that’s me’,” she said.
Emily works in the Middle East as a movements operator, coordinating the travel of personnel serving in the region.
“I’d say I’m a travel agent for the army,” she said.
“We book flights for people to get to here, and also get them forward to places like Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“It’s been very busy, and I’ve met lots of different people.”
Sarah works as a personnel capability officer coordinating administration for headquarters staff and has left her young family behind.
“I’ve really enjoyed it so far. I obviously miss my son and my husband, but when other mums are deploying I’ll be able to tell them they can do it too.”
She left Grafton in 2010 to work for a mining company before joining the air force three years later.
Sarah now lives in Adelaide with her husband, also from Grafton, and their three-year-old son Max.
Her family usually makes it back to Grafton around Christmas time.
Sarah is due back in Australia in July, while Emily will return in April.
DEFENCE: RAAF Flight Lieutenant Sarah Conway-James and Australian Army soldier Private Emily Ford at Australia’s main base in the Middle East.