Gladstone corporal on front line in fight against terrorism
THIS Anzac Day will carry extra significance for Corporal Matthew Albury as he serves his country as an army linguist in Iraq for Operation Okra.
The 31-year-old army corporal from Gladstone is deployed with Task Group Taji Rotation Four - a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel that is training Iraqi Security Forces, north of Baghdad.
For the next few months, Corporal Albury will be based at the Taji Military Complex, where he's working as Arabic-speaking linguist and providing Iraqi soldiers with training in marksmanship, infantry tactics and first aid.
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"The training the Iraqis are getting from Anzac soldiers is improving their combat capability and helping them to defeat Daesh," he said.
"To see the Iraqi soldiers absorb and apply the information that I am able to provide in their native language, and see them become better soldiers, is truly rewarding."
Corporal Albury studied Modern Standard Arabic at the Australian Defence Force's School of Languages near Melbourne for a year before spending time in Egypt and Jordan for further training on local regional dialects.
His current deployment has been his first interaction with Iraqi Arabic which has 26 sub-regional dialects.
"The guys we're training now are all from northern Iraq so the language is like a 'mash-up' of Turkish and Arabic," he said. "It's hard being away from friends and family but I know we're doing an important job over here, supporting the Iraqis."
Growing up, Corporal Albury attended Gladstone State High School and was a member of the local Sea Scouts and a tae kwon do instructor.
"I grew up in Gladstone, and most of my family still lives there," he said.
"I spent most of my childhood bike riding around in the bush next to my house and playing in old mineshafts.
"When I finish my deployment I'm looking forward to seeing my partner Christie and engaging in a level of online gaming that can only be described as obsessive when I get home."