Anzac Day in Port Fairy was especially moving for former resident and Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Dylan Root who travelled from Sydney to attend the commemorations.
It was the first south-west Anzac Day service he's attended since joining the Royal Australian Navy.
Lieutenant Root is a Maritime Warfare Officer in Sydney and said the visit was a good chance to participate in the local services. He laid a wreath at the Port Fairy event and was the key note speaker at the Koroit commemorations on Monday.
Lieutenant Root, 27, attended Port Fairy Consolidated School and later Warrnambool's Emmanuel College. His parents live in Port Fairy and he tries to get home every three to six months to visit them.
He said he's marched at larger Canberra and Sydney events but enjoys the smaller events the most.
"I love the local ones so much more," he said. "Port Fairy's close to home because I'm from here and it's a nice chance to visit the folks.
"The county town ones are my favorites. I've done one in rural New South Wales and loved it. The town shows a lot more gratitude than being overrun by people in uniform and it's nice to be a bit more community focused."
He said the city-based events had between 3000-4000 active service people marching, as well as all the returned services personnel and family members. "It's a big, big parade," he said.
Lieutenant Root said he originally looked at working in aviation and it was while working at the Warrnambool Airport he met former military personnel that led him to his current career.
"I met people through the helicopters that are based out there, and who had been in the military before. They told me about different jobs and broadened what I thought was available to me. This job sounded quite cool.
"I love it."
Lieutenant Root said he originally looked at going into the air force, but he's pleased he chose the navy.
"There's the community mindedness, the family nature, the fact you get to work and travel with your friends for months on end.
"It might sound tiresome for some, but in a team environment it's productive, it's rewarding and in the past couple of years the amount of support defence has given back to the community, really is a testament to what we are capable of."
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He said the most rewarding community role he'd done "by far" was working on 24-hour checkpoint in Eden during Victorian/ New South Wales COVID-19 border closures, where he was in charge of 30 people.
"Community roles have brought defence back into the forefront of the public's mind," he said.
"It's been really rewarding and gratifying to be involved in the community."
He said during this time they'd built relationships with emergency services and had the chance to work with different emergency services and management and meet different people.
"It's been challenging," he said. "We've had a community assistance task for the last three years straight, from bushfires to COVID-19 to floods.
"We're now involved with aged care assist. We've got people all around Australia maintaining that workforce shortage in aged care.
"We've got people in Melbourne driving ambulances for non-emergency use, patient transport and things like that. It's really broad. We're a jack of all trades."
At the Koroit Anzac Day service, the Sydney- based lieutenant spoke about World War II seaman Teddy Sheean and honouring the sacrifice of the first Anzacs and those who fought alongside them at sea, not only at Gallipoli but throughout the great war.
He said Anzac Day was a time to also remember the many thousands of Australians in other conflicts, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and on UN peacekeeping missions and other operations.
"These Australians offered themselves in service of our nation and in the service of peace and justice," he said.
"They fought on land, in the air and at sea. They endured, they suffered. Many died in the course of their service, in battle, from wounds, of disease and captivity and those who returned were never the same people again.
"Their stories are at the core of our shared identity as Australians," he said.
The Koroit service included a performance by Barbara Brooks who sang the National Anthem, a wreath laying ceremony, a live rendition of The Last Post by bugle player Lindsay Stow and a minute's silence.
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