HONOLULU, Hawaii - The U.S. and Australian military members stand solemnly together, shoulder to shoulder, as the horizon slowly lightens during the dawn service to remember the sacrifice of Australians and New Zealanders who died in war.
Much like America's Memorial Day, Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, or ANZAC, Day is one of Australia's most important national occasions. Observed April 25, it marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.
The Soldiers of Company D, 53rd Signal Battalion, which has a large contingent of Australian service members as part of the Department of Defense official memorandum of understanding on air and space capability development, turn out by the dozens to support their teammates during these solemn observances.
"Celebrating events such as ANZAC day or the 100 years of mateship that we celebrated last year is vital to maintaining our strong partnership," said Capt. Robert J. Phillips, commander of Company D. "We have fought side by side with our Australian partners in every major conflict for the past 100 years, and remembering our mates' sacrifices on this important day signifies how important and vital our partnership is."
Australians and Americans first fought together at the Battle of Hamel in France in July 1918, and have fought alongside each other in every major U.S. military action since, including World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Australia has approximately 580 service members in the United States, spread across 31 states, and the District of Columbia. The majority are embedded into U.S. military units, such as with Company D, filling the role as if they were a member of the American military.
"Our Australian partners bring experience and expertise that is an important dynamic and a force multiplier," Phillips said. "Most of our Australian partners have from eight to 20-plus years of experience in the military, and that is experience you just can't train."
The alliance between Australia and the United States was formalized through the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty in 1951, and now, more than 60 years later, remains the foundation of the security relationship between them.
"Our relationship is important for multiple reasons," said Phillips. "Not only does it fulfill the requirements of the MOU, but the United States doesn't accomplish anything alone. Maintaining a strong partnership with our allies is vital to our national security and the success of this vital mission."
Company D is part of 53rd Signal Battalion, 1st Space Brigade, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command and is one of five Wideband Satellite Operations Centers around the world that provides assured communications connectivity for mission-critical subscribers ranging from the president of the United States, DOD, interagency and international partners all engaged in conducting global operations. The battalion is the only unit in the Department of Defense that conducts payload and transmission control of both the Defense Satellite Communications System and the Wideband Global Satellite communication constellations.