Royal Australian Navy Headquarters Tasmania personnel and the Tasmanian Contingent of the Royal Australian Navy Band were an integral part of the 72nd anniversary commemoration of the Battle of the Coral Sea held at Hobart’s Cenotaph on Saturday 10 May 2014.
The Battle of the Coral Sea was a defining moment in the war in the Pacific which effectively halted the Japanese plans to take Port Moresby in their drive south towards Australia. It also forged an alliance between Australia, New Zealand and the United State of America which was formalised as the ANZUS treaty after the war in 1951.
The commemoration was organised by the Hobart Division of the Australian – American Association.
Commander Stacey Porter, Commanding Officer, Navy Headquarters Tasmania, read the Lesson from the Book of Ecclesiasticus.
The Catafalque Party was under the command of Petty Officer Jeoff Young, and the band was under the command of Chief Petty Officer Mark Ham. Bugler Leading Seaman Miriam Norman played the Last Post with Able Seaman Jim Verrall joining in with an ‘echo’ during the sounding of Reveille.
The Coral Sea address and a message from the President of the United States of America, President Barack Obama was delivered by Mrs Kim Furnish, Consular Chief, US Consulate, Melbourne.
In his message, President Obama wrote that “during those fateful days in the Pacific our countries fortified an unshakeable alliance based on shared histories and rooted in common values.”
“It has blossomed over the decades to become one of the cornerstones of peace and security, not just in the Asia-Pacific region but around the world,” he said.
A message from the Prime Minister of Australia, Hon Tony Abbott MP was read by Senator David Bushby, Deputy Government Whip in the Senate.
Twenty four ‘official’ wreaths were then laid before the small audience gathered on a cool autumn afternoon for a very moving commemorative ceremony.
Commemorative events over the weekend included the Coral Sea Dinner at ‘The Stables’ in Hobart at which Commander Porter delivered the Coral Sea address on behalf of the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs.
The weekend’s activities culminated in the running of the Australian-American Association Cup at Hobart’s Elwick Racecourse.
Commander Porter presented the owners and trainer of the winning horse, Wonzzee, with the trophy.
Press Release, May 26, 2014; Image: Australian Navy