Australian and United States military volunteers, along with two Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program members, have restored a memorial to a Bougainville chief who supported allied efforts in the Second World War.
Baros of Siroui was beheaded by Japanese Forces and a memorial to him was erected some years after the war by the Lions Club of Australia.
The 60-year-old memorial has stood the test of time but in need of attention, has been cleaned up and repainted by volunteers attached to PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP 2015 while medical and engineering projects were conducted in the Arawa community in early July.
Deputy Mission Commander, Royal Australian Navy Captain Brian Delamont, was more than happy to roll up his sleeves and lead the efforts to clean up the memorial to Baros of Siroui.
“It’s been a great experience to work on this mission as an embed; the entire Australian team in USNS Mercy is fully immersed in the organisation,” Captain Delamont said.
“I played a key role in the planning stage and we deliberately chose the places where we would be most challenged and where we can make the biggest difference in the lives of the local people.
“It would be very tempting to go to the bigger cities and visit the areas we know we can operate easily, but that would defeat the point of much of what we are looking to achieve in this mission.”
USNS Mercy’s Chief Machinist’s Mate Jason Case recreated the original plaque from an early photograph.
PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP is an annual United States sponsored humanitarian and civic assistance mission aimed at strengthening international relationships between participating nations in the Asia-Pacific region.
This year, independent teams based in two United States Naval Ships, 1000-bed hospital ship Mercy and fast catamaran Millinocket, visited remote communities in Kiribati, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Through PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP, Australia will provide almost 60 personnel across all three services. The outcome will be engineering and medical support to communities which otherwise would not have access to a high standard of those services.
Twenty-five medical staff across a wide range of disciplines have integrated into the mostly United States teams operating out of USNS Mercy.
While there is much work to do providing vital medical services to local communities, members deployed on PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP also find time to perform other duties in the areas the ship visits.
Other activities include visiting local schools to donate supplies, reading to the children or kicking around a soccer ball with them.
“I think we all feel very privileged to be involved in PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP 2015,” Captain Delamont said.
“It was a competitive selection for people to be deployed on this mission, we certainly had more people volunteering to be included than we had positions.”
“The same can be said for refurbishing this memorial to Baros of Siroui, we are never short of volunteers who are keen to make a difference, no matter how small, for people in the communities we visit.”