Honoring the Fallen: USAF Colonel lays wreath at Australian War Memorial

Col. Raymond Powell, the senior U.S. defense official in Australia, lays a wreath to honor a fallen Australian military member at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Australia, Aug. 20, 2019. Powell was invited to represent the U.S. military in the ceremony, which takes place at the end of every weekday. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Benjamin Wilson)
September 15, 2019

Everyday as the sun sinks below the horizon, the Australian Defence Force honors one person who gave their life in service to the country as a member of the armed services.

Col. Raymond Powell, the senior U.S. defense official in Australia, laid a wreath on behalf of the U.S. military during one such ceremony at the Australian War Memorial, here Aug. 20.

The gesture, not lasting more than a few minutes, was tied to a rich history of partnership between the two nations’ militaries.

“The U.S. and Australia share a bond that has been forged in blood,” Powell said. “We have fought together side by side for over a hundred years. We share the same values, belief in democracy, rule of law and human rights. So being able to pay my respects is very special.”

During the ceremony the Australian Defence Force honored Australian Pvt. Claude Dewsnap, whose first attempt to enlist for World War I was rejected due to medical standards. About four months later, he again requested to enlist, was accepted and served in the 8th Infantry Battalion.

He was wounded by a gunshot during an attack on German lines in August 1916. After recovering from his wounds and returning to service, he was shot again during operations in Belgium and survived.

However, on Oct. 26, 1917 he was fatally wounded by a German artillery attack near Westhurst, Belgium. He was 25 years old.

“The phrase that we use in the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard is ‘Honor with Dignity,’” Powell said. “The Australians’ phrase is ‘Lest We Forget.’ That’s really a powerful phrase because there is a lot packed into those three words.”

To emphasize that sentiment, every last post ceremony, which takes place at the memorial, includes the reciting of the “The Ode,” which is the fourth stanza of Laurence Binyon’s “For the Fallen:”

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Just as the Australian Defence Force remembers, so too does the U.S. the partnership, which has tied the two nations together for more than 100 years.

The Australian Defence Force has supported and fought alongside the U.S. in every major conflict since World War I.

And that alliance is just as strong and important today as it ever was, according to Ambassador Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr., the U.S. Ambassador to Australia.

“The Alliance between the United States and Australia and the combined relationships we have with like-minded partners like Japan, New Zealand and others throughout the region is incredibly important,” he said.

“It’s fundamentally important to have a close, strong and capable ally in the region and we look to them for leadership in the Pacific, where they have long historic relationships.”