Aircraftsman Daniel May (IT Specialist) with a satellite dish that he set up in Samoa to enable communications for the camp.
Until 18 months ago, Aircraftman Daniel May worked in a casino, fixing pokie machines and ensuring they had not been tampered with. Over the next three weeks, he is working in the balmy, palm-fringed Samoan capital of Apia as one of four information technology specialists who are supporting a humanitarian aid and disaster response exercise conducted by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZ Defence Force).
"I tried to contain my excitement when I first learnt that I was going to Samoa on this exercise. Where else can I get paid to do what I love and to travel?" said the 29-year-old airman, who hails from the sleepy seaside village of Ocean Beach in Whangarei.
AC May is a member of the 100-strong contingent taking part in Exercise Tropic Twilight, which was conducted by the NZ Defence Force in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade from 28 July to 19 August.
In Samoa, AC May and three other personnel from Air Communications and Information Systems (CIS), a unit in the Air Force’s 209 Squadron, set up the satellite connection to ensure reliable and secure communications back to New Zealand.
"Growing up, I caused my parents a lot of grief for dismantling numerous electronic gadgets at home and reassembling them to figure out what makes them work," he recalled. "I have always been keen on technology ever since I can remember."
AC May completed high school in Brunei, where dad Jon and mom Heather worked for nine years as secondary school teachers. He studied four years towards a bachelor’s degree in information technology.
After pushing electronics merchandise for two New Zealand retail giants for seven years, AC May decided to join the Air Force in 2009. However, he did not sign up until two years later because there was no vacancy in CIS at that time.
"My close friends William and Simon joined the Air Force in 2006 and 2007, respectively, and raved about their experience and their travels whenever we met.
They looked physically fit and I felt pretty envious."
"I hope I will get posted to Antarctica someday. Nothing can beat that edge-of-the-world kind of adventure."