ANZAC day holds a special meaning for all who have fought under the Australian flag throughout the years, but for the members of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR), the day signifies more than that.
It marks the anniversary of the battle of Kapyong during the Korean War.
On April 23, fifty-seven years ago, another generation of Australians and New Zealanders were preparing to celebrate ANZAC day.
Instead, they helped hold up the Chinese 60th Division along the valley of the Kapyong River and became part of the ANZAC legend themselves.
‘If people look up the history, you’ll see just how much these chaps went through to defend the day, they’re all heroes,’ Tea Tree Gully RSL branch president, Michael Sherlock said
By ANZAC day 1951, the Chinese offensive ended and Seoul was safe, but 32 Australians were killed and 53 were wounded.
‘The Battle of Kapyong was a very big battle in Korea … it means a heck of a lot to Australian history,’ Mr Sherlock said.
For their gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps the 3 RAR was awarded a US Presidential Citation by the American President of the day, Harry Truman.
One ex-serviceman, who was proudly wearing the badge this ANZAC day, was Korean and Vietnam veteran, Mr Rocky Anock.
‘They presented the citation over there but unfortunately most of us had departed Kapyong and already come home, but we still got it,’ Mr Anock said.
Fifty-five years later and technically the Korean peninsula is still at war.
‘The war hasn’t been signed as finished…After all that, the war ended more or less where it started, on the 38th parallel,’ Mr Anock said.
Still today, the 38th Parallel, an invisible line 38 degrees north of the equator, continues to divide the country.
‘If you go to Korea today you’ll find thousands of American troops in South Korea and on the other side North Koreans and Chinese along the Demarcation Line,’ Mr Sherlock said.
Unless North Korea abandons its nuclear weapons program, a formal peace treaty and an official end to the war is unlikely.
‘They’ve still got barb wire…and one side is still edgy with the other side, so anything could happen yet.’ Mr Anock said.
The war may not be over, but Mr Anock and the rest of the third battalion have made their mark in Australia’s history giving ANZAC day resonant significance.
‘To me it’s about remembering all my mates that didn’t come home,’ Mr Anock said.
Whatever the future holds for Korea, it will be up to the new generation of Australian service men and women to find their own meaning of the ‘ANZAC spirit.’