HE MAY not be back until July, but Tongala’s Riley Tinning has his sights set on a cold beer with the boys when he returns home.
Tinning, pictured, is serving in Iraq as part of 1st Armoured Regiment of the Australian Army.
He provides protection, security and firepower from a Bushmaster army vehicle.
Tinning was inspired to join the army in 2012 by a teacher at Kyabram P-12 College.
“Mrs Sutton believed I would make a great soldier,” he said.
“I did some research on the military and I knew being a cavalryman soldier was the job for me.
“My job involves providing a safe area for our task group to train the Iraqi soldiers and I also give lessons on marksmanship and medical and tactical situations.
“The training we’re providing to Iraqi soldiers is very important. It’s improving their combat capabilities and giving them medical knowledge to save lives in combat situations.
“I feel the mission we are conducting here is making a difference. Serving my country gives me the feeling of great passion and honour.”
Tinning, a keen sportsman, was a well-known member of the Tongala Football Netball Club and Tongala Lawn Tennis Club.
“I like to think I have come a long way from being the local newspaper boy at age 13,” he said.
“It’s hard being away from friends and family on Australia Day, not being able to participate in traditions back in Tongala.
“But I know the training we are providing here to the Iraqis is important – it’s life changing.
“I’m looking forward to my return home to see my family and friends again, even though it’s a while off yet.”