TODAY'S Remembrance Day intertwines life, death, injury and history in the 20-year Australian army special forces career of recovering wounded commando Sergeant 'P'.
‘While Anzac Day commemorates Australians and what we started from, after coming together under one flag and setting the military standard for what was to follow, Remembrance Day is the day we take account for all those guys we lost,’ he said.
His 2nd Commando and Swanbourne-based Special Air Service Regiment mates are currently back in the Middle East, deployed against extremist group ISIS.
Sgt P’s overseas deployments culminated in a US helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2011 that left him with severe back injuries.
Before a 25-year army career, he was supported by the charity Legacy, after his father died from World War Two wounds nearly 30 years after that conflict.
‘You’ve got to remember all of Legacy are ex-soldiers, so if they knock on the door of that family who has lost someone they understand, especially if there are children, or if the widow has moved away from the State where her husband was posted,’ Sgt ‘P’ said.
Of 41 Australians killed and 256 wounded in 11 years of Afghanistan conflict, 20 were from the Special Operations Task Group comprising mainly commando regiments and the SASR.
Sgt ‘P’ has been the liaison between families and the army after several of the deaths, and he said wanted the public to remember the men’s significance, and all from other conflicts commemorated around the State, is often greater than their army service.
‘These people who die, they are more than soldiers, they are sons, a father, a brother,’ he said.
However, not all his memories are tragic, and he remembers fondly guarding a commemorative service after a gunfire breakfast he organised in back country, mountaintop Afghanistan in 2010.
‘For me, it was the most appropriate thing for me to be doing, a sergeant, manning a machine gun up there and being part of that whole history stretching back 100 years,’ he said.
– For coverage of today’s commemoration at Memorial Hill in Fremantle and Memorial Hall in Hamilton Hill check out the Gazette‘s Facebook pages.