Members of the Australian Defence Force contingent who are deployed to Hawaii for Exercise Rim of the Pacific 2014 (RIMPAC) have paid their respects at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, just ahead of U.S. Independence Day.
Royal Australian Navy Captain Nick Woodley laid a wreath at the memorial to symbolise Australia’s deep respect for the United States.
Captain Woodley said that the United States was an extremely valued friend and partner to Australia and visiting the memorial was a fitting way to express that relationship as Americans prepare to celebrate the 4th of July.
“It was extraordinary. It is just a place of incredible reverence over there – you are effectively standing on the grave of more than 1100 sailors who perished on the 7th of December. Humbling is probably the best word – it was an amazing opportunity.”
“Even more importantly, from our most junior sailor to our most senior representative here, we’re showing the respect between the two nations on a day to day basis and it is just wonderful to watch,” Captain Woodley said.
The USS Arizona Memorial was dedicated in 1962 to serve as a tribute to the 1,177 men who lost their lives when Japanese Naval Forces attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The USS Arizona was sunk when she was hit by a 1,760-pound armor-piercing bomb.
Australian Defence Force personnel who attended the wreath-laying ceremony were given an opportunity to look around the memorial and hear about the 1941 surprise-attack on Pearl Harbor from United States Navy sailors.
More than 950 Australian Navy, Army and Air Force members are in the United States to participate in RIMPAC, which is the world’s largest naval exercise.