Sergeant Kieran Preston’s recent six-month deployment on Operation Accordion in the Middle East led to a unique record.

He was awarded the 'silver swab' for undergoing 20 nasal swabs – a record within the ADF's Camp Baird. 

Sergeant Preston was Joint Task Force 633’s postal manager which meant he had more personal interaction than most.

“As part of my role I had to do the cash and mail run which took me off base,” Sergeant Preston said.

“Part of our COVID-19 protocols meant being swabbed. Because of my regular run I had a permanent weekly booking at the Camp Baird medical centre.”

Sergeant Preston said the test was uncomfortable but chose to look at the lighter side.

“Once you have had it enough times it just goes straight in. It doesn’t even hit the sides. I just went on autopilot, like Pavlov’s dog,” Sergeant Preston said, a reference to the 1904 Nobel Prize winning scientist Ivan Pavlov and his more famous ‘conditioned reflex’ experiments. 

Sergeant Preston said he didn’t expect the silver swab award. 

“When the medical centre rang and said I had to come down immediately, my first thought was ‘oh no I’ve got COVID-19’,” he said. 

Sergeant Preston did everything he could to avoid close contact with anyone - ducking and weaving until he was sat down behind a curtain in the ward.

“All of a sudden the curtain was pulled and every member of the medical department was there with this silver swab trophy,” Sergeant Preston said.

Sergeant Preston has returned to Australia where he had to undertake two more swab tests and a two-week quarantine.