Aussies, Kiwi’s, Americans and distinguished guest from around the world gathered at the National Cemetery of the Pacific here April 25 to commemorate Australia-New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) Day.
Annually honored on April 25, this year marked the 99th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli, the only major amphibious assault that came from World War I. The ANZACs fought in the invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey, and established a beachhead at Gaba Tepe, later dubbed ANZAC Cove, to honor the troops from Australia and New Zealand who fought valiantly against the Turkish defenders. The battle was later studied by the Marine Corps in the 1920s and 1930s and had a direct impact on the Marines’ amphibious doctrine.
ANZAC Day is comparable to the United States’ Memorial Day and Veterans Day, as Australians and New Zealanders pay respects to the fallen of their two countries. It begins in the Australian continent and in New Zealand with dawn services, and then is remembered with ceremonies all over the globe, ending with the final ceremony in Hawaii.
“The last ceremony is held here in Hawaii, we conclude the day of commemoration,” said Lt. Col. Linda Meyer, Defence Consul with the Australian Consulate in Honolulu. “That means we want to make sure we get our ceremony right. And we can only do that because of the great support we get from the men and women of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific. We think that the ceremony here in Hawaii with our New Zealand and U.S. partners is a fitting end to a day that commemorates shared sacrifice.”
Every year MarForPac joins the Australian Consulate and New Zealand Embassy to commemorate ANZAC Day with a wreath laying ceremony. This is the 42nd year MarForPac has supported the ceremony in Hawaii.
The relationship between the U.S. and Australia dates back to World War I and extends to more recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Marines have been fighting beside the Aussies in historic battles since the war in the Pacific. Along with being comrades in battle, the Australians have also welcomed Marines.
“When the Marines needed a respite from the fight, they found a warm welcome in Australia,” said Meyer. “During one of those visits, the Commander of the First Marine Division [Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller] heard the famous Australian song ‘Waltzing Matilda.’ He liked it so much, he adopted it as the Division's song. To this day, 1st Division Marines still ship out to this song being played.”
Most recently in 2012, Australia welcomed Marines by hosting Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D). This year, the third MRF-D Rotation is in Australia.
“This year, for six months, approximately 1,150 Marines will live and train in and around Darwin,” Meyer said. “They will work with the Australian counterparts and engage across the region. Just as important as this history is what we are doing today.”