Best of both worlds
As an Army reservist for more than 20 years, Sergeant Darrell Byron has been part of many deployments throughout his career.
Recenty deployed on Operation Mazurka in Egypt, he was a Force Operations Centre (FOC) watchkeeper as part of Australia’s contribution to Multinational Force and Observers (MFO).
Sergeant Byron said he was part of a team responsible for maintaining situational awareness of operations in the area.
“I maintained all shift logs and had an understanding of who was where in the operating area and what was going on to notify the battle captain and enact relevant actions based on incidents or issues that may arise,” Sergeant Byron said.
“Being part of the FOC we rely on each other as a team to provide timely information to assist the force with the mission.”
The mission of the MFO is to supervise the implementation of the security provisions of the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty of Peace and employ best efforts to prevent any violation of its terms.
Thirteen nations operate in four security zones, three in the Sinai in Egypt and one in Israel along the international border.
“It’s great working with different nations and seeing how each country functions has been a great learning opportunity,” Sergeant Byron said.
“One of the challenges is navigating so many different languages but it is all part of the cultural experience.”
Having grown up in Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley region, NSW, Sergeant Byron joined the Reserves in his last year of high school in 1989.
He served for 12 years before a short break and re-enlisted in 2006.
He said he wanted to give back to the community and serve his country.
“The Reserves gave me the flexibility to do both,” Sergeant Byron said.
Back home, Sergeant Byron is an engineering officer with AusGrid.
“My role involves undertaking engineering-related and technical activities to support a safe, sustainable and affordable electrical network for our customers,” he said.
“I’m fortunate that my civilian employer has a military leave policy, which allows the flexibility to serve as a reservist and deploy on operations.
“It’s experiences and opportunities like these that I can take back to my civilian workplace.”
Sergeant Byron said his most memorable experience on Operation Mazurka was this year’s Anzac Day.
“While Australia and New Zealand where gripped in the COVID-19 crisis and unable to attend their traditional Anzac Day services, the MFO were extremely lucky to be able to conduct a dawn service overlooking the Red Sea, while complying with social distancing requirements – something I will never forget,” Sergeant Byron said.