The lives of the one hundred and three former students and staff who gave their lives in service to their country was commemorated as part of The Armidale School’s Anzac Day service this morning (1 May).
Anzac Day itself fell during the school holidays, and while the TAS Cadet Unit Guard performed catafalque duties in Armidale on that morning, the student body, staff and wider school community came together today for its own tribute.
The names of those Old Boys who made the ultimate sacrifice were read out, starting with Trooper Douglas Arndell in the Boer War, included the three Sandilands brothers who all lost their lives in World War II, and ended with Lt Michael Fussell who was killed in Afghanistan in 2008.
In his address, Squadron Leader Scott Harris, an Old Boy of the school who has served with the RAAF since 2000, said the Anzac spirit of courage, sacrifice, mateship, endurance, respect, professionalism and humour, was alive and well in the modern Australian Defence Force.
“On my last rotation to Afghanistan we transported a young soldier who had been quite badly injured by an explosion that killed the interpreter standing beside him. Uploading the young soldier at Kandahar airfield I made my way down the back of the aircraft to say hello. I approached and said ‘Gday mate, how’s things? Looks like you’ve been in a bit of mischief?’ to which he responded in his best Monty Python voice, with a big grin on his face ‘What this? ‘Tis merely a flesh wound! Don’t worry about me though, you just concentrate on your landings. I didn’t come all this way to end up dying at the hands of a RAAFie’”.
Squadron Leader Harris said many qualities of the ANZAC are alive and well in the wider community, and evident in the way ordinary Australians rise to meet the challenges of catalystic events including natural disasters at home and abroad.
“TAS cadets, students, ladies and gentlemen, I implore you to personify the qualities of the ANZAC as we gather not to glorify war, but to remind ourselves that we value who we are, the freedoms we possess, and to acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of those who contributed so much in shaping the identity of this proud nation.”