KUWAIT CITY, KUWAIT -- Senior leaders of Task Force Spartan were in attendance as Australian and New Zealand Army members observed ANZAC Day here on April 25, 2017.
Task Force Spartan Commander Maj. Gen. Blake Ortner, Deputy Commander Brig. John Epperly, and Command Sgt. Major Ronald Smith; Brig. Gen. John Epperly, Deputy Commander and Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Smith stood in respect as New Zealand and Australian soldiers marched silently to take positions at each corner of the memorial. In a ceremonial demonstration of respect, the soldiers stood guard with their heads titled downward to honor their countries' fallen.
Guest speakers talked about the significance of the day, which commemorates the anniversary of the initial 1915 landings executed by ANZAC soldiers at Gallipoli, Turkey, during World War I. Although the Gallipoli campaign ultimately resulted in a Turkish victory, ANZAC Day remembers those who made the ultimate sacrifice and provides healing for the families left behind.
For Task Force Spartan senior leaders, the remembrance resonated. 29 years after Gallipoli, the 29th Infantry Division experienced similar heavy losses during its amphibious landings in Normandy, France, during World War II.
"The only thing I could think of was Omaha Beach," said Ortner, recalling the 29th Inf. Div.'s famous participation in the D-Day invasion. "It was really moving."
The shared experience of war and common remembrance across cultures also affected Smith in a similar fashion.
"It really reminded me of our Memorial Day," said Smith. "It doesn't make losing our brothers and sisters any easier, but we have a duty to remember their sacrifice."
After the ceremony, many pleasantries were exchanged, but "Happy ANZAC Day" was not one of them. The soldiers in attendance preferred "Best Wishes," which was honored by all.