ABLE Seaman Dane Jones aptly describes himself as "a fish out of water".
For the past five months, he has been stationed at Al Minhad airbase, United Arab Emirates.
"There's not much water around here," he said. "We are in the desert; it's just sand and heat."
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) arranged a Leader phone interview with him as part of a campaign to connect communities with their serving men and women.
Able Seaman Jones, 26, grew up in St George, where he attended Hurstville Grove Public and Blakehurst High schools. He later moved to Gymea.
He joined the Royal Australian Navy in August 2006 and works in naval stores and logistics. This is his second deployment to the Middle East; he went to Iraq aboard HMAS Stuart in 2008.
In March he began a seven-month rotation at Al Minhad Airbase, 24 kilometres from Dubai, as part of Operation Slipper, Australia's military contribution to the international war effort in Afghanistan.
The airbase, a joint operation by the three arms of the ADF, includes a relatively small number of navy personnel.
"I work in the Q store (quartermaster's store), supplying protective equipment and weapons for our guys to go forward into theatre," he said.
"Everything we do is supporting them and knowing they have what they need to stay safe is a good feeling."
Able Seaman Jones works seven-day weeks and some shifts last 12 to 16 hours.
"We have to be very flexible because there are people coming and going all the time whom we have to look after," he said.
"Now and then the unit might put on a barbecue and, once a month, we go into Dubai for a day to stretch our legs and refresh ourselves."
A keen St George Illawarra Dragons supporter, he looks up results on the internet.
‘A BIT OF A NAVY BRAT’
Able Seaman Jones followed his father into the navy.
‘‘My dad did 35 years, so I am a bit of a navy brat,’’ he said.
‘‘I love the navy and being at sea, but I also like other challenging experiences and I wanted to give this a go.
‘‘This is primarily an army unit, but with every rotation they call for expressions of interest and I was lucky to be chosen because there is strong competition.’’
He and his fiance, Alexandra, a high school PE teacher in Sutherland Shire, plan to marry next year.