ANMM – NOC Coral Sea Commemorative Lunch at the Terrace Room, Australian National Maritime Museum – Saturday 9th May, 2015.
There was a good turn-out of members of the Museum and the Naval Officers Club to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, fought off Australia’s north-eastern coast by US and Australian naval and air forces against a determined Japanese naval force. The commemorative lunch was held at the Museum’s Terrace Room, overlooking their heritage RAN fleet, on Saturday 9th May on a perfect sunny Sydney autumn day. Outside, the flags of Australia and the United States were at half-mast. Guest Speakers were Vice Admiral Peter Jones AO, DSC, RAN ret., most recently Chief of Defence Force Capability until his retirement in 2014, and the Public Affairs Officer of the US Consulate in Sydney, Mr. David McGuire.
Mr Kevin Sumption, CEO of the Museum gave the introductory address and welcomed the participants. The NOC president Rick Bayley, introduced Vice Admiral Jones, and the NOC Vice President, John Hazell introduced David McGuire. NOC member Rear Admiral Andrew Robertson, AO, DSO, RAN ret., thanked the guest speakers and made some concluding remarks. The speeches of Vice Admiral Jones, Mr. David McGuire and Rear Admiral Robertson will be re-printed in a future edition of the NOC newsletter. Interestingly, David read the Presidential Proclamation of the 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea, issued on the 24th April by President Obama. (A copy is in this gallery).
Principal Chaplain Rev. Dr. Gareth Clayton contributed to the meaningful nature of the occasion with a very appropriate grace before lunch and the remembrance prayer to initiate the ceremonial section of the commemoration.
A highlight of the afternoon was a recital by a brass quintet of the Sydney detachment of the RAN Band, led by Leading Seaman Martyn Hancock. The group rendered a special arrangement of US Military Marches – Semper Fidelis, the official march of the US Marine Corps, – The Battle Hymn of the Republic whose origins date back to the US Civil War and – Anchors Aweigh, the adopted signature song of the US Navy. Leading Seaman Tracey Kennedy joined the quintet as vocalist for Anchors Aweigh.
The ceremonial section of the commemoration started with the Remembrance Prayer, followed by bugler Leading Seaman Marcus Salone playing the Last Post and Taps, followed by a minute of silence in memory of those who gave their lives in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the greater Pacific Campaign of WWII. The bugler then sounded the Reveille, while the flags of Australia and United States were hoisted close-up. The vocalist then led the audience in singing the Naval Hymn and the national anthems of Australia and the United States.
Finally, the Chairman of the Museum, Mr. Peter Dexter, AM, made the closing remarks, thanked the organisers, as well as the participants for their attendance. He encouraged the audience to join the occasion again next year.