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Army June 9, 2011
SIX World War II veterans on an
Australian Government commemora-
tive mission have visited JTF 633's
headquarters at Al Minhad Air Base in
the United Arab Emirates.
During their visit, the Army and Navy
veterans met Defence personnel serv-
ing at Al Minhad and held a service to
remember Australians killed in WWII
and in Afghanistan.
Delegation leader Maj-Gen Mark
Kelly (retd) from the Department of
Veterans' Affairs said the visit was an
excellent opportunity for the veterans,
who were on their way to 70th anniver-
sary commemorations for the Battle of
Greece and Crete, to meet serving men
"The opportunity to visit our troops
in the Middle East will be one of the sig-
nificant highlights of their visit to Greece
and Crete this year," Maj-Gen Kelly said.
"These gentlemen are national treas-
ures and it's great to see them passing on
their experiences to the current serving
Among those making the trip was
Arthur Leggett, a veteran of the cam-
paigns in both Greece and Crete.
"You cannot help but be impressed by
the dedication and attitude of the soldiers
here," Mr Leggett said. "It's quite an
The visiting veterans, aged between
88 and 101, were Mr Leggett, Norm
Maddock, Basil Hayler, Alf Carpenter,
Dan Bowden and Bill Tayler.
Vets visit deployed
troops in MEAO
WWII battle remembered
By Flt-Lt Mick McGirr
AUSTRALIA'S Federation Guard
(AFG) has completed a week of
commemorations in Greece for the
70th anniversary of the Battle of
Greece and Crete.
The AFG participated in sev-
eral commemorations to remember
Australian and Allied soldiers who
fought defending Greece from the
World War II German invasion in 1941.
Major activities in Crete included
ceremonies at the Hellenic-Australian
Memorial in Rethymno, the Allied
War Cemetery in Souda Bay and the
German War Cemetery in Maleme.
Veterans of the conflict, including a
delegation from Australia, attended
alongside Veterans' Affairs Minister
Warren Snowdon and DCA Maj-Gen
Speaking after the Hellenic-
Australian memorial service, Maj-Gen
Symon said the ceremony was espe-
cially significant for the ADF.
"What we've commemorated here
today was a really remarkable battle,"
"To have the Federation Guard
here, some magnificent soldiers,
sailors and airmen representing our
nation and performing the way they
did, it makes you very proud as an
AFG Contingent Commander Lt
Luke Haitas said he felt privileged
to have been part of the ceremonies,
especially as he was an Australian of
"We are extremely proud to have
had this opportunity to represent
Australia and honour our veterans," Lt
"The role that the AFG plays in
these commemorations is vital in main-
taining our military traditions."
While in country, AFG personnel
met their Greek counterparts, the Greek
The Presidential Guard CO, Lt-Col
Peter Miliopolous, said the relation-
ship between the two units was very
"Australia's Federation Guard
reminds me of the relationship we have
with the Australian military -- we are
blood brothers," Lt-Col Miliopolous
"It's really an honour to have per-
sonnel from the ADF come to visit us.
We have the same spirit -- we're broth-
Lt-Col Miliopolous, who was born
in Sydney, said both units played an
important role in their societies.
"They are very significant because
they remind people every day of history
and tradition -- sometimes daily life
makes us forget where we come from,"
April and May this year marked
the 70th anniversary of the Battle for
Greece and Crete.
When German forces invaded
Greece in April 1941 they faced Greek,
British, Australian and New Zealand
troops, who conducted a fighting with-
drawal towards beaches near Athens
and on the Peloponnese from which
many were evacuated to Crete.
In Crete, Commonwealth forces
faced a German airborne invasion on
May 20, 1941, and were defeated after
10 days of fighting.
More than 600 Australians were
killed and 5000 captured in the Battle
for Greece and Crete.
Memories: Lt Luke Haitas and Australian
WWII veterans reflect during a ceremony to
mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of
Greece and Crete. Inset, Pte Denny Lang,
AFG, joins personnel from from Greece, the
UK and New Zealand in a catafalque party
at Souda Bay.
Photos by Cpl Janine Fabre
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