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September 17, 2009
TWO former Mackay school mates
have met up in Kandahar while serv-
ing as part of the ADF's contribution
to peace and stability operations in
LEUT Rachael Browning and
Army's CAPT Abby McKenzie attend-
ed Mackay West Infant State School in
the same class during 1988-89.
LEUT Browning said it was a
great surprise to meet up with CAPT
"It was a real morale booster to
meet a mate from Mackay with whom
Old friends meet in Afghanistan
SMALL WORLD: Old school friends, CAPT Abby McKenzie (left) and LEUT Rachel Browning met up recently
in Kandahar while serving as part of the ADF's contribution to peace and stabliity operations in Afghanistan.
Photo: HQJTF 633
They have been working
together via email and
on the phone for many
weeks, but it wasn't
until LEUT Browning's
recent trip to Kandahar
that they saw each other
and recognised the
I could swap great mem-
ories and catch up on cur-
rent news," she said.
"We hadn't seen each
other in more than 20
years and it was amaz-
ing to reconnect here
so far away from north
Queensland and both in
They both remained in Mackay
for the rest of their school years, with
Abby attending Mackay State High
School and Rachael attending Mackay
North, but had lost contact.
LEUT Browning joined the Navy
in 2000, completed a Bachelor of
Arts and then began her seaman offic-
er training, while CAPT McKenzie
joined the Army in 2002, completed a
Bachelor of Arts at ADFA, then gradu-
ated from the Royal Military College
in 2005 as a transport officer.
"It's strange how we both ended up
in the ADF with similar careers, and
now we're both here in Afghanistan,"
LEUT Browning said.
Between them, LEUT Browning
and CAPT McKenzie have served
overseas on numerous operations and
In Afghanistan, CAPT McKenzie
is the OIC of Joint Movement Control
Centre -- Afghanistan, and is based
in Kandahar in the country's south.
She is responsible for coordinating
the movement of ADF personnel and
equipment around Afghanistan. LEUT
Browning is based in the capital Kabul
as Staff Officer to the
of the Australian JTF,
BRIG Wayne Budd.
They have been
working together via
email and on the phone
for many weeks, but
it wasn't until LEUT
Browning's recent trip
to Kandahar that they saw each other
and recognised the connection instant-
ly. LEUT Browning said she found her
current job in the land-locked country
different and very rewarding.
"In addition to my staff officer
duties, I'm also responsible for the con-
duct and coordination of all Australian
VIP visits within Afghanistan.
"This is different to any other
deployment I've done in the Navy.
I really enjoy working with other
Services and the interaction with other
nations is a great experience."
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