Fly over helps commemorate Anzac Day

ANZAC DAY COMMEMORATIONS: Blue Lake Highland Pipeband member Barry Ward with Returned Services League president Bob Sandow and Salvation Army corps leader Tim Frost as they prepare for today's Anzac Day commemoration events.

Charlotte Varcoe

THERE will be a special treat for those attending Anzac Day commemorations in Mount Gambier/Berrin today with the fly over expected for 11.30am.

This will be the second time the fly over has made its way to Mount Gambier/Berrin as part of the annual commemoration events with Returned Services League president Bob Sandow labelling it a special occasion.

“South Australia is pretty big and there is only one pilot allocated so he cannot be everywhere but we are fortunate enough the plane that is doing the flyover is one that does work offshore so it is a matter of them coming down the main street here then going wherever it needs to be,” Mr Sandow said.

“We have also got a special vehicle this year and that is a military vehicle which came from America.”

Mr Sandow said other parts of the events held today would include young servicemen and women.

“We have got a navy captain coming across from Canberra who is an ex-Casterton boy and now he is now looking forward to coming across,” he said.

“We also have a warrant officer coming from Canberra who is a local boy who would like to march and put a wreath out and we have also involved a young girl who is in the second year of her army service.”

Mr Sandow said this year’s event was planned to “add a little bit of military” amongst the regular proceedings.

“We want these kids to understand what their grandfathers and great-grandfathers did after the Boer War service,” he said.

“This year we have more schools laying wreaths and at the dawn service there was a young lady from St Martin’s Lutheran College who read out the Ode of Remembrance.

“We really want the youth to get involved because one day somebody will have to stand up.”

Mr Sandow said there was also going to be more effort in including and recognising modern veterans such as Mount Gambier/Berrin Major Matthew Brodie who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Maj Brodie has served since June 1989 and remains in service to this day.

Speaking with The Border Watch, Maj Brodie recalled serving in Iraq in 2005 and in the Middle East, including Afghanistan in 2007.

He said the deployments were tough and when he was deployed in 2005 he left behind his second son at just three-days-old.

“When I left it was hard being away from family,” Maj Brodie said.

“We were training the Iraqi army and it was pretty full on in terms of weather.

“The hottest it got was 54 degrees celsius and we worked long hours with early starts and late finishes, seven days a week getting things ready and training the men for what they were up to.”

Maj Brodie said despite the difficulties, serving in his two deployments was a rewarding job.

“We saw differences in the people we were training but we were also short staffed, busy and working under pressure, especially when there were attacks on the bases,” he said.

“During these attacks you just manage to deal with the immediate things which are happening around you and act in accordance with your training and don’t think about things too much.

“However, later as you reflect on things you are aware as to whether what you did was in accordance with training and looking after your mates.”

Maj Brodie said he originally joined the army to “get away from home” and “do something different” but had always been inspired by those who had gone before him.

He said as a modern veteran he believed it was important for people to continue the Anzac Day commemorations and recognise the service provided.

“It is also about the tradition which started a long time ago and keeping up with that,” he said.

“It is important to continue and recognise that but it is also good for the health and wellbeing of people to recognise what we have done and those younger veterans to be recognised for what they have done rather than get caught up in the day-to-day.”

He said he considered it a “real pride” to serve the country and found serving beneficial in terms of mateship, teamwork and bonding with those he had worked with.

“I have had a longer career in the force than I thought but I have loved it and it is important for people to look towards the modern veterans because the acknowledgement that we do sit somewhere in the history of conflict with our country is important,” Maj Brodie said.

“We need to honour those who have gone before us and made the ultimate sacrifice.”