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Army August 18, 2011
Duty done: Tpr Myron Allen has returned
from East Timor after spending the past six
months with the Timor Leste Aviation Group.
Photo by Cpl Melina Mancuso
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Chief of Staff
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Face of Army
The Soldiers' Newspaper
Reward for angels
Fuzzy medallion: Pte Jessie Mather poses for a photo with fuzzy wuzzy angel medallion
recipient Thomas Poken Tokiapron (above) as Francis Simeni is escorted to the podium by the
Chief of Kokoda Village, Benjamin Ijumi.
Photos by LAC Bill Solomou
By Ben Robinson
IT COULD take up to six months
to identify human remains
believed to be an Australian sol-
dier found in a remote area of
Papua New Guinea.
In early July a field team from
the Unrecovered War Casualties
Unit Army (UWC-A) was inserted
by helicopter to a location not far
from the Kokoda Trail; Eora Creek.
Over three days, the six-person
team successfully extracted the
remains in conjunction with a rep-
resentative from the PNG National
UWC-A Case Researcher Capt
Andrew Bernie said the success of
the case depended on the range of
specialists selected to work on the
project from within and outside of
"It was a really exciting opportu-
nity to use the skills of the specialist
team members with quite diverse
backgrounds," Capt Bernie said.
The UWC-A's archaeologist and
bio-anthropologist, Marc Oxenham,
said it wasn't uncommon for
remains found in PNG to be exca-
vated and put on display in villages.
"After being handled by many
individuals including trekkers, this
makes DNA testing [and identifica-
tion] harder," Dr Oxenham said.
"Any of the sites can become
contaminated and highly disturbed
by individuals, looking for artefacts.
"It's important if people do find
human remains, they do not try
and excavate them, but leave them
as they are and notify the PNG
National Museum or UWC-A as
soon as possible."
Capt Bernie said if the remains
were identified as Australian, the
member's family would be offered a
funeral with full military honours.
"Should the remains be identi-
fied as being those of a Japanese
soldier, they will be respectfully
handed over to the Japanese govern-
ment," he said.
The UWC-A team returned to
Australia on July 17 after investi-
gating other sites in the Oro prov-
ince of PNG.
PNG remains not
Delicate work: Sgt Geoff Lyon, ADFIS, sets up the camera to record
the location of the reported remains in the field in PNG.
By LAC Bill Solomou
AUSTRALIA's Federation Guard (AFG)
proudly participated in a fuzzy wuzzy angel
commemorative medallion ceremony in Papua
New Guinea on July 24.
The service was held at Bomana War
Cemetery, a scenic and beautifully presented
burial ground for more than 3500 Allied service
Catafalque party commander Cpl Russell
Cox-Brogan said the triservice AFG contingent
conducted a flawless presentation.
"It was a great privilege leading the members
of the catafalque party," he said. "They are a
highly motivated and professional team who tire-
lessly rehearsed to ensure perfection on the day.
I couldn't have been more proud," he said.
The High Commissioner to PNG, Ian Kemish,
Defence Parliamentary Secretary David Feeney,
senior PNG service members, fuzzy wuzzy
angels and their families attended the ceremony.
Senator Feeney thanked the fuzzy wuzzy
angels for their dedication and loyalty to the
"We are forever indebted to the kindness
and the invaluable assistance they provided to
Australians during World War II," he said.
Tim Evans from the Department of
Veterans' Affairs introduced the fuzzy wuzzy
"This medallion is a symbol of Australia's
appreciation for the care and assistance extended
by the PNG civilians to Australian serviceman
"Many Australians, wounded and suffering
terrible illnesses, owe their lives to these civil-
ians, who came to be affectionately known as
fuzzy wuzzy angels," he said.
The fuzzy wuzzy angels carried supplies to
the troops and helped evacuate the badly wound-
ed and sick. The tradition of the fuzzy wuzzy
angel is synonymous with the infamous Kokoda
Pte Jessie Mather, AFG, whose grandfather
served as an engineer during WWII, participated
in the catafalque party.
"It was a great honour to have met the angels.
"I was not aware they were actually civil-
ians -- it was quite interesting finding out that
they were never serving members of either the
Australian or Papuan forces," she said.
"My grandfather always talked about the
fuzzy wuzzy angels.
"They had great mateship with them and felt
indebted to them. It was humbling to have the
opportunity to commemorate those who helped
my grandfather and his mates," she said.
AAB BSM WO2 Graeme Reynolds played
the Last Post and Rouse.
"I was fortunate enough to have been chosen
as the bugler for the service.
"It was a great honour performing and meet-
ing the fuzzy wuzzy angels, their family and
friends," he said.
WO2 Reynolds took the opportunity to chat
with the Chief of Kokoda Village, Benjamin
Ijumi. As part of the service, the Chief, wearing
his traditional native costume, which included a
coloured feather headpiece, played a traditional
"I was very humbled to have met him," WO2
"He explained the significance and tech-
niques used to play the conch, they were very
similar to the bugle."
Chief Ijumi who is looked upon as the expert
and go-between for any matters associated with
the fuzzy wuzzy angels, thanked the Australian
government for establishing the medallion.
"Many of the fuzzy wuzzys are very old and
for them to receive the medallion, is a great hon-
our," he said.
Unrecovered War Casualties -- Army
investigates all notifications to Army
relating to the discovery of human
remains, or evidence of the presence
of human remains, in areas where
Australians of past conflicts may not
have been recovered.
Contact UWC-A on 1800 019 090.
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