454 and 459 RAAF Squadrons
Anzac day 2018 Collection
ANZAC Day March in Sydney 2018 and later commemorations at The Kittyhawk
Video of Alex T. McKinnon taken at the ANZAC March in Adelaide 2018
The video was taken and shared with us by his Granddaughter Jen McKinnon
Tribute to John MacMahon - Anzac day 2018
The video was made courtesy of his Daughter Marie
A word from the Hon Secretary
I just wanted to post my thanks to all those who attended the ANZAC March yesterday and the reunion lunch afterwards at the Officers' Mess at The Kitty Hawk. It was yet another successful parade led by our patron, John (Doover) MacMahon. It was great to see some new comers - especially Simon Fraser and his brother, Peter with his family from Victoria. They are the sons of Sqdn Leader Donald Fraser of 454 squadron. Simon, being so tall, was immediately given the honour of carrying the Australian flag which he did so admirably. Phil Howson from Queensland, son of Wing Commander Phil Howson of 459 squadron, is no newcomer, but this year he brought his two strapping sons to the March and so they took the strain on the guide ropes on either side of our magnificent banner during the March. Holding up the banner during the March were school mates Will Capel (my son and a great nephew of Cam Stephen of 459 squadron) and David Lord (grandson of Squadron Leader George Gray of 454 squadron and Chairman of the Committee for many years).
The feedback I have received so far over our new choice of venue has been fantastic. The Officers’ Mess seemed to be a perfect fit for all of us (72 including kids) and we are most grateful to the owner of The Kittyhawk, Jared Merlino, and his wonderful staff for putting on such a marvellous reunion lunch for us. Everything worked perfectly, as all stops had been pulled out to pay special tribute to our last remaining survivor of the two squadrons, John MacMahon.
Special thanks go to John’s daughter, Marie Karakousis, for delivering a bitingly honest presentation in honour of her Dad. The time of his struggles immediately after the war were not overlooked and it reminded me with dismay how our own family had covered up a returning vet’s suicide, leaving behind a wife (my aunt) and three young daughters to raise. Thank God times have changed and PTSD is now recognised with a little more understanding and compassion. I would like to see if we can repeat Marie’s tribute today with other talks given by descendants at future reunions. We pushed hard for this during our speeches yesterday and already Carl Fairbairn has volunteered to speak in 2019 about his close relation, Flying Officer Ted Gorman, taking advantage of the fact that he can interview Ted’s sister who is now quite frail, for more information. (Luckily, whilst forming up, I was able to convince him to attend the reunion lunch afterwards!)
During my address I announced that Steve Lysaght had decided to finish up as a Committee member earlier this year, but for those who were not able to make the lunch I wish to place on record our appreciation for his contribution to and support of the Association over the years, including as Hon Secretary.
For those who didn’t make it this year you missed out on a great day. Please make a special effort to be with us next year. Your committee works very hard on your behalf to ensure that the sacrifices our service men and women made are fittingly remembered with gratitude. On the ABC 702 radio broadcast on ANZAC morning I listened in awe to Retired Colonel Susan Neuhaus’s dawn service address at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. We should all listen to it, in particular, her reminder that, “every Australian, whether they have a direct link to the Anzacs or not, has benefited from their sacrifice.”
And these powerful words from Neuhaus are worth recording here as well:
“Now I understand that when the bugler sounds the reveille, it is a call to awaken. It is not a call to the dead but a call to the living and it calls to each of us. That we might use the threads of their sacrifice to strengthen the fabric of this nation. That we might live our lives with the same courage, the same loyalty… that we might be imbued with fairness and compassion for those less fortunate.”
When I march behind our noble banner I have similar thoughts about my uncle, Cam Stephen, who never made it past 21 years and 1½ months. I feel he is sitting on my shoulder as we march up Elizabeth Street. I whisper silently to him, “Look at the crowds cheering you on, Cam. You deserve all their accolades. Look through my eyes and see how the crowds are still cheering and clapping, raising their Aussie flags and signs to say thank you; to you and your crewmates, forever young, 76 years on.”
Lest We Forget
I do hope you will join with us next year. Make a note in your diaries to do just that.
With best wishes