SOUTHWEST ASIA —
As the sun rose over Union III base in Iraq, Australian service members and a very limited number of Coalition guests from Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve observed the 105th anniversary of Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) Day, April 25, 2020.
ANZAC Day is the national day of remembrance that commemorates all Australian and New Zealand service members who have served in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. Originally, this honored the “ANZACs” who served in the Gallipoli campaign, their most well-known engagement in World War I.
The service was held at dawn, which was the time of the original ANZAC landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey. The ceremony began with Australian Army Lt. Col Duncan Foster, the Operations Officer for the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, Task Force Iraq, reading the history of the campaign. As a sign of recent times, the ceremony was held in accordance with COVID-19 physical distancing measures.
“[ANZAC Day] is a time of reflection of not only my service, but also of friends that I’ve lost through various operations,” said Foster. “It’s also a part of the Australian consciousness because we tie the service of previous soldiers from all wars through today.”
“ANZAC Day is really important to [Australia and New Zealand]. For me personally, it’s also extremely important,” said British Army Maj. Gen. Gerald Strickland, CJTF-OIR deputy commander for strategy. “My own Regiment that I joined lost most of its numbers during the Gallipoli Campaign in the First World War and fought along the brave soldiers of Australia and New Zealand.”
“Tons of thoughts as a human being and a professional soldier are felt here,” said U.S. Army Col. Matthew Brown, commander of 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division and deputy commander of CJTF-OIR Task Force Iraq. “The commonality of our history and the fact that this alliance continues even today means an incredible amount.”
During the ceremony, the laying of the wreath is a commemorative symbol of remembrance, today performed by Australian Army Maj. Michael Sipple, an operations staff officer for TF-I.
“[ANZAC Day] is a time to reflect on the service of those that have come before us and to do some self-reflection and look at the service I’ve provided to Australia,” said Sipple.
Next came a reading of “The Ode of Remembrance,” the forth stanza of "For the Fallen," by English poet Laurence Binyon. One minute of silence was observed in honor of all the fallen service members that had given the ultimate sacrifice. The ceremony concluded with the Australian national anthems.
The original World War I ANZAC soldiers were volunteers. There was no official conscription. Men would travel far and wide to sign up as it was seen as a courageous and brave act to fight for their country.
Australian and New Zealand service members are part of the multinational coalition to prevent a Daesh resurgence while maintaining stability and security in the region. The Coalition provides mentorship and equipment to enhance the professionalism, technical expertise and equipment capabilities of the Iraqi Security Forces.