Indigenous service personnel honoured

HONOURING WAR SERVICE: Back from left, Amy Hammond, Bree Constable, Sara Byrnes and Kevin Duroux and, front from left, Marc Sutherland, Chris George and Neil Flanders will honour Aboriginal war service tomorrow. Photo: Gareth Gardner 090714GGA01

HONOURING WAR SERVICE: Back from left, Amy Hammond, Bree Constable, Sara Byrnes and Kevin Duroux and, front from left, Marc Sutherland, Chris George and Neil Flanders will honour Aboriginal war service tomorrow. Photo: Gareth Gardner 090714GGA01

TAMWORTH and surrounds will honour the region’s Aboriginal servicemen and women with a moving ceremony tomorrow morning.

In a fitting feature of NAIDOC Week’s theme of Serving Country: Centenary and Beyond, the Tamworth RSL Sub-branch and Aboriginal community will honour wartime service.

Organiser Marc Sutherland said it was a way of “recognising Aboriginal servicemen and women in defence of our country”. 

The organising group said it was the first time, they knew of, that the community would come together in this way.

“There were a large number (of Aboriginal service personnel) from this area, but we don’t know exactly because there were no proper records,” Mr Sutherland said.

“We will recognise the service that Aboriginal service people made prior to even the Boer War.”

The 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers will provide the catafalque party and the RSL sub-branch will lay a wreath.

“I’ve been in communication with the RSL and the 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers for a long while and they’ve been really supportive in putting the day together,” Mr Sutherland said.

“It’s been a really good collaboration.” 

The special guest on the day will be Uncle Terence (Terry) Stacey from Boggabilla, who is a Vietnam War veteran. Mr Stacey served in Vietnam in 1968-1969 as a private with 4RAR and was named Indigenous Elder of the Year at Moree Plains Shire Council Boggabilla and Toomelah Community Awards.

“He will be important on the day in the whole proceedings and will recite The Ode and read a poem he wrote,” Mr Sutherland said. “Uncle Len Waters will be the emcee and do the welcoming smoking.”

Mr Sutherland said the service could be held again at another time. 

“There’s talk about it becoming an annual service and that’s the beauty of the theme – it starts that conversation that this could be an annual thing,” he said.

Everyone is invited to the service, which will start at 10am at the World War II Memorial on Kable Ave.

The service will be followed by the annual street march to Viaduct Park where there will be a family fun day, with the whole community encouraged to get involved to support the day.

There will be a free bus service operating and to get a timetable, call Mr Sutherland on 0432 652 832.

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