PEARL HARBOR—This year, our allies West are marking an especially poignant ANZAC Day.
Officially, April 25 annually marks the anniversary of the opening engagement that led to casualties for Australian and New Zealand forces in World War I. ANZAC is short for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, otherwise known as “Anzacs.”
At the U.S. Pacific Fleet, we’ve had a few eye-opening reminders recently of our shared sacrifice in achieving and sustaining peace, stability and prosperity for Pacific nations over the last century.
Just days ago, a joint U.S. and Australian expedition shared images of an underwater survey of Australia’s first submarine, HMAS AE1, which now lies on the seafloor off the Duke of York Islands in Papua New Guinea. HMAS AE1 was lost at sea with all hands on Sept. 14, 1914. The submarine was the first loss for the Royal Australian Navy and the first Allied submarine loss in World War I. Pioneers all, their courageous service led the way for those that would follow in the silent service.
In World War II, five American submarines crewed by 420 Sailors, based in New Farm Wharf—the USS Triton (SS 201), USS Amberjack (SS 219), USS Argonaut (SS 166), USS Seawolf (SS 197) and USS Grampus (SS 207)—would go missing and join the ranks of those “on eternal patrol.” Pacific submarines were often at the tip of the spear, fearless—and some might argue peerless—in challenging the maritime enemy.
Last month, the at-sea discovery of the USS Lexington (CV 2) gave proof to our combined commitment. The Lexington was an aircraft carrier sunk nearly 76 years ago by the Japanese in the Battle of the Coral Sea. She gave her all in repelling a Japanese invasion force determined on securing Port Moresby in what is now Papua New Guinea. Before surrendering to the sea on May 8, 1942, “Lady Lex” reduced the Japanese naval forces who would otherwise have fought at Midway one month later.
The men and women who make up today’s Pacific Fleet are humbled to serve in the wake of those warriors who served so valiantly before. The watery graves we’ve now seen are testament to their bravery and determination. Our comfort and security today are a direct result of their supreme personal sacrifices—and we are incalculatedly grateful. We are eager today to build on that foundation of trust, dedication and brotherhood.
Retired Capt. Dave Werner’s 24-year Navy career began as a surface warfare officer before becoming a Navy public affairs officer. He retired from the U.S. Navy in 2012 and now works on the staff of the U.S. Pacific Fleet public affairs office.