GRAFTON BOY: Shane McErlean’s parents, Kerry and Paul, still live in Grafton. Shane used to play for the Grafton Ghosts Rugby League Club.
GRAFTON BOY: Shane McErlean’s parents, Kerry and Paul, still live in Grafton. Shane used to play for the Grafton Ghosts Rugby League Club.

Shane McErlean follows family path

THE desire to follow in the footsteps of his two older brothers has put Grafton’s Shane McErlean into the danger zone.

Shane, 25, is one of the very few Diggers still on duty in Iraq.

He’s part of the Australian Army’s 100-strong security detachment in Baghdad.

They are based in the Australian Embassy and their job is to look after Australia’s diplomats, VIPs and other representatives in the country.

His brother, James, is a captain in the army and his other brother, Scott, served in the navy.

After finishing Grafton High School, Shane joined the army in 2003 as an M113 armoured personnel carrier crewman.

“I joined the army to follow in the footsteps of my two older brothers,” he said.

He became an ASLAV crew commander, promoted to troop corporal, a military self-defence instructor and eventually a driving and servicing instructor.

In Baghdad, Shane is a vehicle commander in the counter-attack team that escorts embassy officials and VIPs around Baghdad in up-armoured Landcruisers.

“Variety is a special part of the army. When I look back, each year has been distinctly different from the last,” he said.

He said the job has enabled him to make friendships that last a lifetime.

“I will enjoy the life experience from this deployment,” Shane said. “I have made some solid friendships and managed to see the world in the process.”

Shane has also had previous deployments to East Timor in 2006 and 2007.

He and his wife, Tegan, have been together since high school.

Asked what he will do when he gets home in September, he said “I will take her to New Zealand. I will then spend time with the family in Grafton, go fishing and play golf with my father.”



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