An air force officer from Cudal will be a long way from home this Anzac Day when the village dedicates new plaques to its war memorial in recognition of individuals who have served in modern conflicts.
One of the plaques will be engraved with the name of Squadron Leader Melanie Keir, a 34-year-old Royal Australian Air Force officer who grew up in Cudal, attended Cudal Public School, and is now an experienced veteran having deployed four times to the Middle East.
She will not be able to attend the Cudal ceremony on April 25 as she will be with her Australian Defence Force colleagues in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Her husband, who is also in the air force, will attend the service with her parents, who still live in Cudal.
Currently deployed on Operation Highroad, Squadron Leader Keir is embedded as the supply advisor within the NATO led coalition at Train Advise Assist Command – Air, providing critical logistics support to the Afghan Air Force (AAF).
“My role is to mentor the AAF’s 1st Logistics Squadron, overseeing their warehousing and supply functions,” Squadron Leader Keir said.
“For example, the management of repair parts and the roll-out of air crew flight equipment so that they have enough helmets and flight suits to fly.”
Joining the air force in 2002, Squadron Leader Keir enlisted into the air force through the Australian Defence Force Academy where she studied logistics and upon graduating, was posted to the Command Intelligence Systems Sustainment office in Canberra as a junior flying officer.
Her first posting saw her swiftly deployed to Operation Catalyst in Qatar to work on deployed IT systems and she also managed logistics during Operation Slipper in Afghanistan and visited again in 2015.
This is the second time she will spend Anzac Day deployed.
“It’s always a bit special doing Anzac Day overseas. I guess it really brings you a lot closer to the people who paid the ultimate sacrifice over here and to those who had their lives changed from being deployed,” she said.