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Darren in Middle East

  • Darren in Middle EastGippsland MP Darren Chester with Sgt Shane Cooper who grew up in Churchill and is now serving in the Middle East.

Gippsland MP visits troops in Afghanistan and Iraq

The Member for Gippsland Darren Chester enjoyed the opportunity to meet a Churchill local while visiting troops in the Middle East.

Mr Chester, who is the Federal Minister For Veterans' Affairs, is pictured with Sgt Shane Cooper who grew up in Churchill.

Sgt Cooper joined the RAAF in 1999 as a supplier and worked at flying squadrons, Defence Force Recruiting and as an instructor.

Sgt Cooper has previously served on OP Anode (Solomon Islands) and is currently on his second tour of the Middle East on OP Accordion.

On this deployment, Sgt Cooper is 2IC of Logistics Support Flight, where he facilitates base logistic support to task units based at Australia's main airbase in the Middle East, in support of OP Okra.

Sgt Cooper is married to Sharon who grew up in Morwell. They have two children Grady, aged 11, and Milla, aged six.

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Mr Chester has thanked Australian Defence Force men and women in the Middle East for their ongoing efforts during a visit to Afghanistan and Iraq.

In Afghanistan, Mr Chester visited ADF personnel providing advice and assistance to Afghan Army trainers at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University, and the Afghan Air Force at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

“ADF members in Afghanistan are making a significant contribution, alongside our NATO partners, to develop the capabilities of the Afghan National Defense Security Forces,” Mr Chester said.

In Iraq, Mr Chester visited Australian and New Zealand personnel serving with Task Group Taji and the Australian Special Operations Task Group.

“Task Group Taji, the Special Operations Task Group and the Air Task Group continue to provide vital roles in training and supporting the Iraqi forces, building on the successful outcomes in their fight against Daesh.

In Baghdad, Mr Chester was also able to meet with members of Iraq’s Invictus Games team, who will be competing at the annual global event in Sydney later this year.

“It was heartening to meet the members of Iraq’s team and to hear how the Invictus Games are helping Iraq’s veterans to recover from their injuries.

During the visit Minister Chester also met ADF personnel at Australia’s main logistic base in the Middle East and personnel from the Air Task Group at Australia’s main air operating base.

“The Australian people can be proud of the outstanding work being done by our Navy, Army and Air Force personnel in operations throughout the Middle East Region to support the Afghan and Iraqi forces in their operations,” added Mr Chester.