By Airman Kevin E. Sommer Giron
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Service members from Australia, Sweden and the United States gathered to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Australian and New Zealand Army Corps Day, or ANZAC Day, April 25 at the 34th Combat Training Squadron on Little Rock Air Force Base.
The annual observance is an important Australian national occasion honoring the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during World War I.
On April 25, 1915, as part of the Allied expedition, Australian and New Zealand soldiers set out to capture the Turkish Gallipoli peninsula, in order to open the Dardanelles to allied forces. Once they landed, ANZAC troops met heavy resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. After eight months of fighting, the conflict ended in a stalemate and the Allied forces evacuated.
More than 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed during the eight-month conflict. ANZAC Day was established in 1916 to memorialize those lost in that battle and has since grown to commemorate all Australians soldiers who have served and died in war or while serving.
This year, Little Rock AFB had the honor to host Australian forces for their commemorative dawn service.
The service began with a dedication speech given by Royal Australian Air Force No. 37 Squadron Leader Christopher Bassingthwaighte.
“It’s a commemoration to all those who have served and are currently serving but it’s also a celebration of our service and our mateship. Today we felt that,” Bassingthwaighte said. Followed was a reciting of “The Ode of Remembrance,” a four-line stanza from a poem written by Laurence Binyon, honoring Australian soldiers who have fallen in battle.
The “Last Post,” a bugle call played at ceremonies to commemorate service members who have fallen, was played to end the ceremony, followed by a two-minute moment of silence and Reveille.
“I still had the same emotions come through this ANZAC day service, I think it was even more special this year because of the fact that we were in another country and we could celebrate it with the Americans and Swedish,” said Royal Australian Warrant Officer Andrew Materne, No. 285th Squadron loadmaster.