‘Fantastic turnout’ honours armed service veterans in Nelson Bay

Local veteran Neil Whitehead on the sound desk.

INTERMITTENT rain showers did not dampen spirits on this year’s ANZAC commemorations in Nelson Bay.

A large crowd gathered at the Nelson Bay War Memorial at Apex Park to observe proceedings beginning at 5:30am on the morning of 25 April.

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An honour guard known as the Catafalque Party, composed of personnel from No.3 Squadron RAAF Williamtown, marched to their positions at the cenotaph, and SQNLDR (Squadron Leader) Jaye McIntyre gave the address, followed by The Ode delivered by the RAAF Padre.

During the ceremony, local residents including representatives from the Nelson Bay RSL sub-Branch, local emergency services, veteran associations and Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer laid wreaths at the cenotaph.

The sound system for the day’s events was provided by local veteran Neil Whitehead, which included playing recordings of the New Zealand and Australian national anthems, and the always moving ‘Last Post’.

News Of The Area caught up with Corlette resident and Vietnam veteran Dean Cox after the Dawn service.

“What a fantastic turnout this morning,” said Dean, “great to see so many locals paying their respects.”

After completing his Army National Service in 1965, Dean enlisted in the Royal Australian Artillery as a Gunner.

“Wasn’t sure what I was ‘Gunner’ do,” quipped Dean, who eventually found his niche as a Physical Training Instructor, and served in Papua New Guinea and Vietnam rising to Sergeant and then Senior Instructor, being commissioned in the field as Captain.

Dean left the Army in 1988 with the rank of Major, and now can be seen most mornings swimming in the waters off Port Stephens, maintaining his fitness and ANZAC spirit.

After breakfast in the RSL, proceedings moved to the Nelson Bay Bowling Club with a flypast of an F-35A Lightning II aircraft from RAAF Williamtown wowing the pedestrian-lined streets, followed by a parade of veterans, serving members and various local organisations marching through Nelson Bay back down to Apex Park, where the main service took place.

ANZAC Day is an important date in our calendars, not only to commemorate the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landings on Gallipoli in 1915, but to remember all those that have served, and continue to serve in our Armed Forces.

We Will Remember Them – Lest We Forget.

By Simon EKINS

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