Being away from home can be tough at the best of times, but it was extremely hard for Private Daniel Norton when he received terrible news from back home.  

Deployed to Afghanistan as part of Force Protection Element 13 based at Camp Qargha, Kabul, Private Norton was returning from a task when he received news that his mate from his hometown in Armidale, NSW, John Boy, had passed away at 23.

“I received a text message from my brother,” Private Norton said.

“John and I grew up together; we both went to Armidale High School and played for Armidale Rams Rugby League Club. 

“It was devastating, especially considering he was so young.

“The hardest part was being so far away, not being able to be physically there for my mates and family back home.”

In memory of John, Private Norton ran 23 laps of Camp Qargha wearing body armour weighing about 12 kilograms.

“I wanted it to be long. I wanted it to hurt. It was meant to hurt; it was a tribute to John,” Private Norton said.

“I wrote his initials on my hand before I started and looked at it to give me purpose for what I was doing.

“It was a small tribute to a good mate, especially when I couldn't be there for his funeral.”