ANZAC Day commemorated at NAS Jax

By Lt. Kevin Wendt
Jacksonville Air News, April 26, 2013

Sailors from NAS Jacksonville joined with Royal Australian Navy (RAN) 725 Squadron on April 25 to commemorate ANZAC Day, the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.

“In 1915, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey,” explained Cmdr. David Frost, commanding officer of RAN 725 Squadron. “The ANZAC force landed on Gallipoli on April 25 and met fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war became a stalemate – and dragged on for eight months.”

At the end of 1915, after both sides had suffered heavy casualties, allied forces were evacuated. More than 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed. April 25 soon became the day on which Australians and New Zealanders remembered the sacrifice of those who died in the war.

At the end of the Second World War, ANZAC Day also served to commemorate the lives of Australians who died in that war. In subsequent years, ANZAC Day has been further broadened to include Australians killed in all the military operations in which Australia has been involved.

The commemoration at NAS Jacksonville began at 8 a.m. with a “gunfire breakfast“ (including black coffee laced with rum) at Mulligan’s Restaurant. The official ceremony took place at 10 a.m. in the VP-30 Auditorium beginning with a short video filled with interviews from survivors of Gallipoli.

Speaking on behalf of his squadron in remembrance of those who bravely served, Frost said, “We don’t remember ANZAC day as a victory or for some glorification of the horrors of war. We remember ANZAC day as a testament to the human spirit possessed in those who have fought and died.”

Capt. Mark Stevens, commanding officer of VP-30, closed with warm statements emphasizing the friendship that Americans have enjoyed with Australia and New Zealand.

“I have been extremely proud to have had the honor to serve with service members from Australia and New Zealand. We have been close allies and friends for many years, and I hope we will continue that close relationship for many more years to come,” said Stevens.