Airmen help commemorate 100th ANZAC Anniversary

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Rachelle Blake
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs
The Air Force's weather mission takes a combined effort from Airmen stationed across the globe, to include a remote observatory in Western Australia.

Detachment 1, 2nd Weather Squadron, also known as Learmonth Solar Observatory, is a joint operation between the Australian Bureau of
Meteorology's Space Weather Networks and the US Air Force. It is located in the small town of Exmouth where the population is less than 2,500.

"Exmouth's history is linked with the American presence here, since the town was established and built to support the Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt," said U.S. Air Force Maj. James Hughes, Det. 1, 2nd WS commander. "Even though the active duty U.S. Navy left in the early 90s, many people in town still look back fondly on the days when the Navy was here.   Det 1, 2nd WS has been able to carry on a small bit of that positive U.S. military presence."

Recently, members of Det. 1, 2nd WS, have participated in recognizing the 100th Anniversary of ANZAC, or Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, Day.

"It was a great honor for the unit to play such an instrumental role in the ANZAC ceremonies," Hughes said. "This is not just a token holiday here--people really are passionate about remembering the sacrifices of their forebears at Gallipoli.  We have Memorial Day in the U.S., but this is on a whole different level."

ANZAC Day is recognized every year on April 25 and marks the first major military action fought by Australia and New Zealand during WWI at Gallipoli. It recognizes the thousands lost in that battle and the battles following, as well as all veterans who have proudly served their country.

"We play a part in ANZAC Day every year, but this past year we were a little more involved," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Michelle Moses, Det. 1, 2nd WS, detachment chief.

For U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joshua Leguillon, Det. 1, 2nd WS Solar Electro Optical Network maintenance technician, being asked to participate was a huge honor.

"It was the proudest moment of my tour," said Leguillon. "ANZAC day means so much to this community and the Australians have just as much pride in the military as we do. Before the ceremony, we took part in an old Australian tradition where we had coffee with a pinch of rum in it...this symbolized the calming of the nerves for the soldiers before they would take to the battle field." 

Each year, the day begins with the Dawn Service. 

"There are two ceremonies, one at daybreak and one around 10 a.m.," Moses said. "At the morning event we had Airmen involved in the...catafalque party, one hoisting the American flag and one laying a wreath on behalf of Learmonth Solar Observatory."

The catafalque party is comprised of armed guards who stand around a memorial or coffin as a form of respect for those who have fallen.

"I represented the U.S. Air Force in the five member catafalque party," Leguillon said. "I trained for a few nights with the local Australian Army commander. We learned how to mesh American drill movements with Australian ones. We also learned how to use our Australian rifles during the ceremony."

Leguillon wasn't the only Airman to participate.

Hughes also took part by joining the reviewing party and singing the national anthem. 

"Because of our remote location, I am actually the only military officer stationed in the Shire of Exmouth," Hughes said. "Thus I carried on the tradition of joining the Shire President to form the reviewing party for the ANZAC day parade." 

The day concluded with the group diving back into their Navy roots.

"After the ceremony, we all went to the Truscott Memorial socialize and for the old U.S. Navy tradition Bell Ringing Ceremony," Moses said. "The bell ceremony started back when this was a Navy base and we started participating in the ANZAC Day celebrations. After the base was contracted out, the senior ranking enlisted person from LSO continued the tradition."