News: Marines honor bond with Australians at the 72nd anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea
Story by Cpl. Scott Reel
DARWIN, Northern Territory, Australia – Marines with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin participated in the celebration of the 72nd anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, May 9, 2014. Marines and Australians united to pay respect to those lost in 1942 and honor the alliance between the two nations.
Lt. Col. Keven Matthews, commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, said the battle is part of the foundation that makes up the Marines’ legacy, and it is imperative that MRF-D memorializes it.
“The Battle of the Coral Sea has a special place in the hearts of all Marines,” Matthews said. “Our fame was made at the Battle of Guadalcanal, but that wouldn’t be possible without the heroic effort of the U.S. and Australian Navy’s here at the Battle of the Coral Sea.”
Australia and the United States have fought alongside each other in
every major conflict since World War II, the Battle of the Coral Sea played a major role in that relationship.
“I think this was definitely the seminal moment in our strategic alliance that really was forged at the Battle of the Coral Sea,” Matthews said. “To this day, we still remember this battle as being where the U.S. and Australia came together to address some of the global issues.”
Commander John Navin, commander HMAS Coonawarra, described the gravity of the battle and the potential consequences for Australia.
“As the Australian people prepared themselves for imminent invasion, Prime Minister John Curtin, declared, ‘I can put it no more plainly than this, Australia faces the darkest hour in her history’, it was in this moment of fear but steely resolve that the Coral Sea, barely 800 kilometers from our coast, became the stage for a remarkable and decisive encounter.”
Although the battle was far from the coast of Darwin, the residents experienced many real encounters during WWII.
“As residents of Darwin, the only part of Australia to have experienced direct action by the Japanese Forces on Australian soil during World War II, we have a unique appreciation of the wartime bond that was forged between Australia and the United States.”
The anniversary was held at the USS Peary memorial where 88 men died just days before 1942, the year of the Battle of the Coral Sea and the establishment of the bond still held today between Americans and Australians.
Matthews read a statement at the anniversary on behalf of President Barack Obama:
“72 years ago, Australians and Americans fought to turn back a relentless advisory in the Pacific,” Matthews said. “Thousands of dedicated service members struggled and hundreds gave their lives to advance the cause of freedom. Their heroism in the face of impossible odds continues to inspire us all, and it is my great privilege to honor in their courage and great sacrifice.”
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