WHEN Australian troops entered Iraq in 2003, Casino-born Wing Commander Stephen Mallett was one of the first in, helping to secure Bagdad International Airport and setting up the communications network that helped keep our diggers safe.
Yesterday he was awarded a Conspicuous Service Medal for staff officer technical capability and HQ combat support.
“It was a bit of a shock,” he said yesterday from Richmond Air force Base. “But it’s a great honour.
“I’m part of a small team so this belongs to them as well.”
Joining the air force in 1980 as an apprentice electrical engineer two weeks before he completed Year 10, he now holds multiple masters degrees in management. Two of the units with which he has served, including the one in Iraq, have been given meritorious awards.
While Wing Commander Mallett may now be managing telecommunications equipment worth $100 billion or more, he hasn’t forgotten his origins.
“My education, lifestyle and upbringing are all due to Casino,” he said. “Casino helped me get to where I am today.”
Wing Commander Mallett still keeps a close mentoring eye on young local men when they join his unit.