Cost of war

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Tom Zaun­mayr

Ser­vices held to re­mem­ber he­roes

Kar­ratha res­i­dents stopped for a mo­ment last week to com­mem­o­rate Re­mem­brance Day and pay their re­spects to those who have served or are serv­ing in armed con­flict around the world.

While many Pil­bara towns were not around dur­ing the world wars, a scat­ter­ing of medals be­long­ing to those who had served in con­flicts in Asia and Africa or had lost fam­ily in World War I were present among the crowd.

Kar­ratha and Dis­tricts RSL pres­i­dent Julie Pope is one of many in the City of Kar­ratha who has had direct ex­pe­ri­ence of the armed forces.

“I was a pri­vate nurse out at 1st mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal in Yeronga, Brisbane, which was a big eye-opener be­ing on my own away from home in my first year out of re­cruits,” she said.

“Brisbane at the time had a huge mil­i­tary com­po­nent, so we were nurs­ing guys with banged up legs, guys who had been in mo­tor­bike ac­ci­dents and even some tank rollovers.

“It was really strange back then be­cause in­stead of go­ing to a nor­mal hos­pi­tal, we would look af­ter them and take them through the whole process there.

“You saw peo­ple through from com­ing in a com­plete mess and not be­ing able to walk to that point where they would walk out on their own feet.”

Mrs Pope said while it was as im­por­tant as ever to re­mem­ber what hap­pened 100 years ago, it was im­por­tant to re­flect on what armed forces were go­ing through in and af­ter con­flicts to­day. Jerome Caspersz grew up inthe Pil­bara, where he joined the army and served with the 3rd Bat­tal­ion, Royal Aus­tralian Reg­i­ment.

Mr Caspersz was de­ployed to East Ti­mor in 1999 as part of the INTERFET peace­keep­ing force.

“We got to see the dev­as­ta­tion and af­ter­math of the In­done­sian oc­cu­py­ing forces over there, which gave me a great ap­pre­ci­a­tion of a

lot of the stuff we take for granted back home,” he said.

“Un­like pre­vi­ous con­flicts, we had fairly good sup­port through our ser­vices and were fairly well re­ceived by the pub­lic when we re­turned.

“I re­turned here with the army,

Re­mem­brance Day wreaths laid at the Kar­ratha and Dis­tricts RSL. was even­tu­ally dis­charged and got a job.”

Dampier lo­cal Brad Beau­mont served in the mil­i­tary for 27 years and held many roles, in­clud­ing a 1994-95 stint in Rwanda dur­ing the geno­cide.

“I re­mem­ber the hard­ships for the Africans and par­tic­u­larly the tribal peo­ple in how they worked in a very dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion,” he said. “They were al­ways op­pressed. “Some 800,000 peo­ple were killed in a three to six-month pe­riod.

“It was a rather hor­rific sort of sight to be over there try­ing to pro­tect.”

Mr Beau­mont said he and peo­ple he served with of­ten re­flected on friends they had lost in con­flict on Re­mem­brance Day.

Ce­leste Sel­ten’s grand­fa­ther and fa­ther lost their lives in World Wars I and II re­spec­tively. Mrs Sel­ten said she had not had time to ask her fa­ther about the war be­fore he died be­cause of the in­juries he sus­tained.

“Not hav­ing males in my life made a big dif­fer­ence and I think it does for a lot of peo­ple,” she said.

“Re­mem­brance Day is about re­mem­ber­ing peo­ple of the war who have suf­fered, not just sol­diers but peo­ple who were left be­hind, peo­ple who lost their fam­i­lies, it’s the young fel­las com­ing home from Afghanistan now, the mem­ory of what they’ve ex­pe­ri­enced never gets time to set­tle, so I feel for them.

“We’re still go­ing through the same stress and hav­ing fam­i­lies shat­tered 100 years later.”

About 150 peo­ple at­tended the ser­vice, which in­cluded a per­for­mance from a 40-strong Kar­ratha chil­dren’s choir.

Pic­tures: Tom Zaun­mayr

Kim and Jerome Caspersz.

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