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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.

Photo: CPL Max Bree

DE­FENCE: RAAF Flight Lieu­tenant Sarah Con­way-James and Aus­tralian Army sol­dier Pri­vate Emily Ford at Aus­tralia’s main base in the Mid­dle East.

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