Wing Commander Andrew Nelson delivers a heartfelt address at the Coffs Harbour Anzac Commemoration.
Wing Commander Andrew Nelson delivers a heartfelt address at the Coffs Harbour Anzac Commemoration. Gemima Harvey

Anzac orator shares personal experiences of Gallipoli visit

Appropriately, a serving officer raised in Coffs Harbour gave the 2015 Anzac Oration.

Wing Commander Andrew Nelson graduated from Orara High School in 1990 and is currently Officer Commanding 86 Wing RAAF Amberley.

He is soon to leave that posting before deployment to the Middle East.

W/C Nelson shared personal, moving observations from his own visit to Turkey's fatal shores.

"In 2011, my family and I visited Gallipoli.

"My two children, who are here with me today, showed genuine interest in knowing about the events that unfolded there.

"We spent the hours walking up from the beach at Anzac Cove, looking at memorials and war graves along the way.

"It was a surreal and humbling experience which we will never forget.

"We eventually reached Lone Pine cemetery, the site of one of the most notable campaigns in the entire campaign, where seven Australians were awarded the Victoria Cross.

"As we continued to walk among the graves, my son who was nine at the time, came across a poppy lying on the ground.

"He held on to it and continued to walk with his sister until they came across the headstone of Lieutenant Frank Matthew Coffee, 24th Battalion, Australian Infantry - when they stopped.

"They took a moment to read his headstone.

"It read: 'He Died For God, Right And Liberty And Such A Death Is Immortality.'

"He was 28 years of age.

"My son then gently planted the poppy under the base of Lt Coffee's headstone.

"Then, in a single gesture of respect, he and my six-year-old daughter saluted Lt Coffee's grave.

"Now it must be said that Lt Coffee was unknown to them or to me.

"He was simply another name among countless others who lie at rest in Lone Pine cemetery.

"Yet this small but significant gesture demonstrates with great clarity and profoundness that the sacrifices of men like Lt Coffee and countless others always strike a chord with our people, no matter what their age.

"Lest we forget."

As a special gesture to the Anzac Centenary, two Royal Australian Air Force Hawk 127 formation aircraft from Number 76 Squadron based at RAAF Williamtown were tasked to conduct flypasts.

The aircraft were timed to fly above Coffs Harbour at 11.10am and Bellingen at 11.20am.

 



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