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Anzac Day is one of the most poignant national events of the year, where we come together to commemorate Australian and New Zealand war heroes who have served and died for their countries. This year, April 25th marks the 106th anniversary of the 1915 Gallipoli landing, which was the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.
With last year’s celebrations being disrupted by COVID-19, Anzac Day events, such as marches and dawn services, were either cancelled or limited to official dignitaries. This year restrictions are still being enforced in some states like Victoria, but for most others, services and marches are making a return – here’s where remembrance services and marches will be held in your state.
With people paying their respects in different ways, we spoke to the lead dentist at National Dental Care Townsville, Dr Andrew Doig, who served from 1995 until 2002, on how he plans to celebrate this Sunday.
After getting a scholarship with the RAAF in his 3rd year of university in 1995, Dr Doig served alongside both the Royal Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). “I was initially posted to RAAF Base Amberley whilst I completed my studies, then upon graduation I moved to Lavarack Barracks in Townsville where I assisted the Royal Australian Dental Corps in providing dental services to over 4,500 soldiers. After June 2000, I was then posted to RAAF Base Townsville until I discharged in June 2002,” says Andrew.
Deployed to Bougainville as part of a peace monitoring group, Dr Doig would often travel to remote villages to provide aid, such as immunisations and emergency dental treatment to the locals. “The day would often comprise of finding some shade under a palm tree and setting up a chair, local anaesthetic, extraction gear and cold sterilisation, to begin seeing local villagers in pain,” Andrew explains. “Children would often line up first and then it was the adults turn. By the end of a day I would have extracted some 100 or more teeth. This was often a challenge without surgical equipment and performing on locals who had badly broken teeth!"
“Being able to give back to the local community was one of the most rewarding parts of my deployment,” says Dr Doig. “Helping someone in pain who otherwise had no way of fixing it, that’s a wonderful feeling. We would always find time to socialise with the villagers as well, often playing football or volleyball, which I really enjoyed.”
Along with helping local communities with emergency dental care, Dr Doig was commissioned to be part of the RAP medical team. “With them I assisted triaging and managing multiple gunshot and machete wounds, and helped out with skin grafting and amputations. It was definitely a testing and eye-opening experience.”
With traditional services and celebrations mostly back to normal this year, people have the option to commemorate the brave Australian and New Zealand soldiers at a public event, or from the comfort of their own home.
“This year I’ll be at the dawn service down at the Strand in Townsville” says Andrew. “The service includes addresses from important members of the community, the Last Post, The Ode, a minute’s silence, Reveille and our national anthem. Then the parade begins later in the morning where veterans, active military units, local schools and other eligible groups participate. It really is a special morning for the community to get together and commemorate such an important occasion.”
“It was 21 years ago whilst serving my country in Papua New Guinea that I participated in the day of commemoration, and it will be one that I’ll always cherish. But no matter where I am, whether in PNG, Townsville or in my house, I’ll always remember and honour the sacrifices made by all of my fellow service men and women on Anzac Day. As we all should.”
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