Airfield Defence Guard Corporal Mathew Finnemore knew he was receiving a promotion but had no idea the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, would be the one doing the honours.

Mr McCormack took part in the proceedings at Camp Baird while visiting the Australian Defence Force’s National Headquarters in the Middle East recently.

Corporal Finnemore is deployed as a member of the Expeditionary Airbase Operations Unit Five (EAOU-5), which provides sustained integrated airbase operations and aviation operational support.

“It was a shock but a nice surprise as I just assumed the Commanding Officer was going to promote me,” Corporal Finnemore said.

In front of the entire EAOU-5 rotation, Corporal Finnemore reported front and centre to the Deputy Prime Minister to receive his promotion.

“I’m pretty honoured, as something like that will never happen again for the rest of my Air Force career, so it was a nice way to get formally promoted,” Corporal Finnemore said.

“I am sure Mathew will take great pride knowing how much the people of Australia appreciate his service.”

Promoting members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) isn’t something Mr McCormack would normally do as part of his responsibilities as Member for Riverina or Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development.

“He said this was his first time promoting an ADF member and asked for any tips. So I just told him to just rip the old rank slide off and put on the new one,” Corporal Finnemore said.

Mr McCormack said the experience was a rewarding part of his visit to thank personnel for their service.

“It was a privilege to present Mathew with his new rank, an important recognition of his growing expertise and importance in the ADF,” Mr McCormack said.

“I acknowledge the sacrifice our people make being away from family and friends for extended periods. But I am sure Mathew will take great pride knowing how much the people of Australia appreciate his service.”

Corporal Finnemore grew up in the small country town of Corowa in New South Wales, not far from Mr McCormack’s home town of Wagga Wagga.

“It was great to see a local lad. It just shows you what country kids can achieve given the right opportunities,” Corporal Finnemore said.