A veteran Defence Force Naval Officer has led Australia’s southern-most Anzac Day dawn service at Casey research station in Antarctica.
Commander Rebecca Jeffcoat has been with the Royal Australian Navy for 28 years and is now spending a year on the ice as Australia’s Casey Station Leader.
Commander Jeffcoat said it was inspiring to be part of a unique Antarctic commemoration.
“Anzac Day is a special time to reflect on the contribution made by past and present service personnel, and the sacrifice these people have made in serving their country,” Commander Jeffcoat said.
“I’ve been to many Anzac Day events over the years and today’s service, held against a backdrop of icebergs in Newcomb Bay, is one I will never forget.”
The team of 26 expeditioners spending the winter at Casey, gathered at the station flag-pole just before dawn.
“We lowered the Australian flag to half-mast, listened to several readings and held the traditional two minutes of silence.
“The service was especially poignant as expeditioners took the opportunity to proudly share their family member’s service experience; in the Boer War, lost at sea in World War II and in Afghanistan,” she said.
Everyone was rugged-up against the cold with temperatures at Casey hovering around minus 15 degrees Celsius.
“As we dig in for a long winter, we can imagine some of the challenges our Defence men and women face when deployed to far-off and often hostile places, away from their families, in service of their country.”
The dawn service was followed by a gun-fire breakfast, games of two-up and watching a live stream of the Anzac Day AFL match.
Rebecca Jeffcoat has been an Officer in the Royal Australian Navy since 1990. She has been deployed to the Middle East and worked as Commanding Officer of HMAS Kuttabul at Garden Island in Sydney.
Most recently she was Deputy Chief of Staff to the Chief of the Defence Force.
The Australian Antarctic Program has a long association with the Australian Defence Force, which provides support through Operation SOUTHERN DISCOVERY.