While deployed overseas last year, mum-of-three Leading Aircraftwoman Svitlana Pogrebnyak made early morning phone calls to manage being away from her family. 

Leading Aircraftwoman Pogrebnyak was deployed for two months on Operation Okra, and phoned her 11-year-old son Christopher, eight-year-old twins Matthew and Sophie, and husband Mick Davis regularly at 6am from the other side of the globe.

In October, she returned from the Middle East region with the small team responsible for the withdrawal of the KC-30A multi-role tanker transport aircraft.

Now at home, she won’t need to make a phone call to speak to her family on Mother’s Day.

She said she planned to celebrate the day by going out for lunch and to the cinema with her family.

Leading Aircraftwoman Pogrebnyak was born in the Ukraine and moved to Australia for love in 2008, receiving citizenship in 2012.  In 2014, she decided to apply for a role in the Air Force.

With a degree in business management under her belt, Leading Aircraftwoman Pogrebnyak completed initial training at No. 1 Recruit Training Unit, RAAF Base Wagga, with her three children, then all aged under five, at home on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

“My husband, who is an ex-ADF member himself, told me to give it a go – you never know the amazing experiences you will have,” Leading Aircraftwoman Pogrebnyak said.

“I also needed a manual licence before joining, and I turned that around in a month – I really wanted to join the Air Force.”

After completing initial training six years ago, Leading Aircraftwoman Pogrebnyak has been posted to combat support group units, and currently is posted to No. 33 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley. 

“The best part about being in the Air Force is the friends you make – over the years, you end up knowing great people all over Australia,” she said.

“I have come from another country and achieved so much professionally and personally in such a short time.”

Leading Aircraftwoman Pogrebnyak is a recognised Ukrainian linguist.

 “Last year while I was on deployment, I had the privilege of translating a letter written by an internee who was detained in the Dachau Concentration Camp during World War II – it was then unveiled at the Australian War Memorial and read to his extended family all these years later,” she said.

“It was an honour to participate in the translation of a small part of history."