From Casino to Iraq: How Shay is serving her country

Casino-born and raised woman, now Australian Army soldier Private Shay Maloney, 22, from Task Goup Taji 4 at the Taji Military Complex, Iraq.
Casino-born and raised woman, now Australian Army soldier Private Shay Maloney, 22, from Task Goup Taji 4 at the Taji Military Complex, Iraq. CPL Kyle Genner

WHEN Shay Maloney left Casino to join the Army in 2013, shortly after her 18th birthday, the idea of a deployment to Iraq was far from her mind.

But this Australia Day, four years on, a deployment in the Middle East is now a reality for the 22-year-old who is a proud member of the Royal Australian Ordnance Corps.

"Casino was a great place to grow up, and most of my friends and family are still around the area,” she said.

"You'll be walking down the main street and it's guaranteed you will run into someone you know.”

After her initial training as a soldier was complete, Private Maloney was posted to the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment in Darwin as a clerk.

"It was daunting at first, being the only girl in a company of over 100 guys, but everyone was very welcoming,” she said.

Pte Maloney then discovered that her sub-unit Charlie Company had been selected to deploy to Iraq with Task Group Taji Rotation Four, a combined force of about 400 Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel supporting coalition efforts to train the Iraqis.

"I was very lucky to be given the opportunity to come to Iraq,” she said.

"I'm the clerk for the task group's Training Task Unit, which is training Iraqi Security Forces so they can defeat Daesh.”

For the next six months, Pte Maloney is based at the Taji Military Complex north of Baghdad. As a clerk, she provides administration support to about 240 Australian and New Zealand personnel.

"My job has its challenging days but I am learning something everyday and finding my time over here rewarding,” she said.

"The only downside is not playing netball.”

Pte Maloney has been a member of the Casino Netball Association for more than 10 years and continues to play in the Defence Force, where she has been selected to play for the Army and the ADF at international level.

"I have missed selection for the Army due to this deployment but there is always next year,” she said.

On her return to Australia, Pte Maloney is also looking forward to spending time with her partner and their dog.

"Mum has been looking after our blue staffy Mac and sending lots of pictures,” she said. "It's going to be great to be able to cook for myself again and go to the beach with a mango smoothie in hand.”

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