Serving in Afghanistan
GROWING up on a large sheep and cattle station, Captain Grant Prendergast had no idea he would ever end up in a place like Afghanistan.
He was a typical young boy full of ambition and imagination, mesmerised by the story of young soldier who used heliographs to send messages with reflected sunlight across the battlefield in the First World War.
Capt Prendergast decided at a young age to join the Australian Army and stuck with the decision.
Upon finishing secondary school, he enlisted in the Australian Army and was placed in the Royal Australian Armoured Corps.
He started his life in the military as a private in an armoured fighting vehicle regiment and quickly rose through the ranks to corporal.
"I started my career from the bottom, as a trooper in an armoured fighting vehicle regiment and learnt to drive armoured fighting vehicles," Capt Prendergast said.
"I rose through the ranks and eventually got commissioned as an army officer."
Capt Prendergast attended the University of New England and was commissioned as an armoured officer in early 2007.
"Ever since I joined the military, one of my goals was to become an officer, and I did," he said.
The Warwick local is currently deployed in the heart of southern Afghanistan in the Uruzgan Province, working side-by-side in a joint environment with Americans, Slovaks, and Singaporeans.
He works for Combined Team Uruzgan at Multi-National Base Command-Tarin Kot that supports elements of the Mentoring Task Force.
One of his roles in Afghanistan involves working closely with the people of Afghanistan, particularly women and children in providing a safe and secure environment. He also works as a Female Engagement Team (FET) leader.
Capt Prendergast and his team co-ordinate and support education programs, economic development, and conduct health and hygiene classes for local Afghan women and children, with the help of the provincial reconstruction team within Uruzgan.
"It has been interesting working here. I would be lying if I said our job is easy over here - it isn't. However, every day we are making progress by working with the people of Afghanistan," he said.
He said the past three months had been an eye-opening experience.
"Working with the local population I have learnt not only about their society but I have also learnt a lot about myself," he said.
Prendergast said growing up on a cattle and sheep station in Northern New South Wales had enabled him to interact and connect with local Afghan farmers.
Despite the challenges in Afghanistan, Capt Prendergast feels he is making a difference.
Throughout his years in the Australian Army, Capt Prendergast has been deployed numerous times oversees with the army, including supporting a United Nations mission in East Timor, and has worked with US Navy and US Marines.
Mid tour, Capt Prendergast said he is looking forward to returning home to spend time on his farm.
"My job here in Afghanistan would have to be one of the most challenging jobs I have had so far. It is bit like the weather - you just don't know what the day will turn out," he said. "There's never a dull moment."