A very different Anzac Day
ANZAC Day, a day for the brother and sisterhood of service men and woman across Australia. It is my great pleasure to stand before you on this day and represent my brothers whom I served with in Afghanistan.
One year ago today I stood alongside my brothers of Mentoring Task Force Two Transport at a very different dawn service. We stood and watched the sun breach the still-snowcapped peaks that towered around us, our weapons slung as the bugle played and took time to remember those who had made the ultimate sacrifice, a sacrifice still fresh to us.
By Anzac Day we had been in country six months and lost two of our brothers; Cpl Richard Atkinson, killed by a roadside bomb on 2 Feb, and Spr Jamie Larcombe, who was shot by an insurgent on 19 Feb. Both Akka and Larcs had regularly been attached to our convoys and kept us alive clearing multiple IED's that lay on the routes we were required to travel. Throughout the remainder of the tour Sgt Brett Wood, LT Marcus Case, Lcpl Andrew Jones, Spr Rowen Robinson and Sgt Todd Langley were called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice. Lest we forget.
The beauty of Anzac Day is the truly Aussie format it is performed. We present at dawn and pay respect to those who gave everything to keep this country safe. We do this in a dignified and respectful manner. We then have breakfast, carry out presentations and catch up with mates. Then we hit the pub in almost an Irish wake style, sharing stories of the fallen and celebrating their lives.
This time to me is the most magical time of the year, not because we are all having a couple, but because when I look around the room I see something truly amazing. For this one time a year generation gaps, religion, sex and race dissolve. I see 80-year-old men sharing stories with 17-year-olds just out of basic, laughing as brothers who share something in common. At no other time of year do you witness such unity and national pride.
It is the service brotherhood that finds me here today. When a platoon deploys and spends nine months every day together in a foreign country it very much becomes a family unit. I wanted my family to have something to remember their time together, something that they could keep for the rest of their lives. I approached the Grafton RSL to see if they could donate funds to have plaques made for my PL. The Grafton RSL and Sub Branch were extremely supportive and granted my request, donating the plaques.
Before the PL departed Afghanistan we held a ceremony and each member received one of these plaques. Since our return to Australia almost every member of the platoon has said to me when they look at the plaque they think of all the good times we shared together. Most of the guys have them on display in their houses. Even our token Mr. Grumpy truckie said how much he likes his.