Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Squadron in US for Anzac service

Hercules crew remembers fallen comrades, with the Last Post, on board former American aircraft carrier.
No 40 Squadron pays tribute to fallen comrades on Anzac Day on board the USS Midway in San Diego.
No 40 Squadron pays tribute to fallen comrades on Anzac Day on board the USS Midway in San Diego.

A New Zealand Air Force squadron based thousands of kilometres fromhome was yesterday able to pay tribute to their fallen comrades.

In San Diego, on board the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier-turned-museum, hundreds gathered to commemorate those who have gone before and celebrate those still serving on Monday morning, local time.

No 40 Squadron Hercules Flight Commander Leigh Foster was there alongside his 36-member crew in his first Anzac Day service away from Australia or New Zealand.

"This was the first I was out of an Anzac nation ... it was certainly the first I was on board a USS warship."

He said it was particularly moving to hear the Last Post - often played to mark a soldier's passing and at commemorative services.

"This was particularly apt here as we were the sole New Zealanders in uniform and felt a strong sense of belonging."

Mr Foster said it was also particularly moving to see the son of a Royal Australian Air Force member on exchange read Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's tribute to the Anzacs.

In 1934, the soldier, born in Salonika [now Thessalonika, Greece], as Turkey's first president, paid tribute to those killed at Gallipoli.

"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives ... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours ... You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."

Mr Foster said these words highlighted the sacrifice made for us today.

"I comprehended the sacrifice these men made and the sacrifice their children and families made so that we could live in today's NZ."

Being able to mark Anzac Day in the US was a special moment for the 300 New Zealand and Australian civilians and service men and women.

"It gives you a chance to reflect ... it's time where we can just take a few minutes to think about those who've gone before and take a bit of time."

The service, organised by the New Zealand and Australian embassies and consulates, took about 45 minutes and was followed by an informal breakfast and refreshments.

- NZ Herald

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