Navy medical officer Lieutenant Commander Lin Hu is currently deployed with his triservice colleagues to the only role 3 hospital in the Iraq area of operations.
He is embedded with the US Army’s Task Force Med 9 at the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Centre.
Born and raised in Fairfield Western Sydney, Lieutenant Commander Hu, an anaesthetist, is providing specialist surgical and medical support to US, coalition, Iraqi Security Forces, Department of State personnel and 23 outlying stations within the region.
“Our team is responsible for neurosurgical, head and neck, orthopaedic and trauma surgical care, as well as the management of critically unwell COVID-19 patients,” Lieutenant Commander Hu said.
“For the past four months, my main roles have been to provide anaesthesia to anyone requiring surgery at the role 3 hospital, immediate review and management of trauma patients and intubation of various severe COVID-19 patients needing additional respiratory support and management.
“I’ve also participated in all trauma simulation exercises and the provision of medical education.”
Signing up for reserve service in 2007 as a final-year medical student, Lieutenant Commander Hu said the deployment on Operation Okra had been both unique and enjoyable.
“Working in the Australian Surgical Team and in partnership with our US and coalition colleagues, the immersive deployment experience of life on base – the culture, food, entertainment, morale and teamwork – has been so rewarding,” Lieutenant Commander Hu said.
“A good team can make or break any deployment or experience, and seldom is it more evident in an adverse environment like Iraq where we are all far from home.
“We have become the stand-in family for each other – the fun, the support and the motivation.”
Despite the rewarding nature of the deployment, Lieutenant Commander Hu said the temperature was initially a major challenge.
“Nothing in my experience had prepared me for what 50 degrees Celsius would feel like – other than my kitchen oven,” Lieutenant Commander Hu said.
“We quickly acclimated, but it was novel to notice that I never got sweaty in the early days, because the sweat would evaporate straight away.”
Posted to the Directorate of Navy Health and specialising in trauma care in his civilian role, Lieutenant Commander Hu joined the Navy seeking a sense of service, identity and patriotism.
“Growing up, I always saw national representation and patriotism as the domain of elite sportspeople, of whom I was not,” Lieutenant Commander Hu said.
“It left me searching for a sense of connection and a meaningful career, which I have grown to find in the ADF through service to the nation.
“As such, my ongoing service is an important part of my identity and link to my country.
“There is a very special sense of pride that comes with putting on the Navy uniform, with the word Australia emblazoned across the shoulder.”