When Riley Dempster suffered a severe knee fracture near the end of 2019, he thought all hopes of entering the Royal Australian Air Force in 2020 had gone out the window.
Suffered during a game of football while he was completing his HSC, the injury and subsequent surgery prevented Riley from completing the necessary fitness test requirements.
But he was not about to give up on his dream.
Riley accepted an offer to study aviation at RMIT University, and worked on his fitness between classes and studies.
Despite the odds stacking up against him, Riley was committed to his physiotherapy program and a rigorous home training program — including daily sessions at the Finley Community Gym — and recently passed all the military medical and fitness tests.
On July 28 he was officially enlisted as an aircraft armament technician with the Royal Australian Air Force.
He went straight in to basic training at the Wagga Wagga RAAF base.
Because of his training requirements, which includes limited contact off base, Riley has been unable to speak with the Southern Riverina News.
Parents Arthur and Kathy Dempster have been unable to share the joy with their son, with attendance at attestation cancelled because of COVID-19 rules, but say everyone is proud of Riley’s determination and achievement.
‘‘It has been a long time coming, but finally the hard work has paid off,’’ Mrs Dempster said.
‘‘There’s been a lot of challenges he has faced on the road to being enlisted.
‘‘He’s got the characteristics to go far and enjoy his time in the Air Force; he’s got the determination and drive to succeed.
‘‘He is already missed, but we are very proud of him.’’