Naval officer Jessica popping with pride
SINCE joining the Navy Jessica Gunning has marched with her crew in Melbourne and Perth, but nothing compares to home.
This year, the 20-year-old fastened the buttons on her uniform before the crack of dawn in Yamba to mark Anzac Day in a very special way, alongside her two grandfathers who both served with the Australian Army for 30-odd years.
It was also her first chance to commemorate the occasion in her home town since she joined the Navy in July 2013, four days before her 18th birthday.
"It was meant to happen last year but my leave was denied and I already told my grandparents," Ms Gunning said.
"This year I fought and fought to come home and they were happy to let me do it. I have been looking forward to it for a few months now."
As an Able Seaman of Maritime Logistics Support Operations on HMAS Sirius, Ms Gunning is based in Western Australia and doesn't often get a chance to head over to the east coast.
"I'm very close with mum and dad so it does get a bit hard sometimes, but it's the best decision I ever made," she said.
"Just going to Maclean High and joining the Navy from there; you sort of have to go out and do stuff while you're young. I joined at 17 so I had my 18th birthday in initial training.
"Now I'm mainly working in hospitality. I look after our captain on the ship and a lot of officers, which is great because you form a good bond."
Ms Gunning said she was aiming to complete 10 years of service, but couldn't think of a reason to leave after that.
"It's such a great lifestyle I don't know why I'd even decide to get out," she said.
"A lot of them on the crew now, you look at them as family. Especially when you go away for four months and they're all you've got."
Luckily she also has an uncle in the Navy, who she has fleeting catch-ups with whenever they are both free.
The chance to spend time with her Vietnam Veteran grandfathers this year though, was just too good to pass up .
"I enjoy doing what I do, but I always love coming home," she said.