For Warrant Officer 1 John Menhenick, the spirit of the Anzacs lives on in all Australians.
The Circular Head RSL World War I Centenary Committee hosted the Royal Australian Navy officer at Anzac Day services across the region on Thursday. In Smithton, Warrant Officer Menhenick spoke of the spirit and mateship born by the Anzacs.
“The origins of the Anzac legend and its significance to our country are well known,” he said.
“Born on the shores of Gallipoli on the 25th of April, 1915 and reinforced during the Battle of Fromelles and Villers-Bretonneux, the Anzac legend was firmly established through the blood, mud and horror of the First World War battlefields.”
It is not only the battlefields on foreign soil where this camaraderie was formed, but during the journeys by sea and air also.
“Undoubtedly the Australian army paid the greatest price for our time at Gallipoli. It is therefore understandable that for most people, Anzac Day invokes images of the Australian solider,” Warrant Officer Menhenick said.
“Yet, the first Australian death of World War I was a naval seaman.
“His name was William ‘Billy’ Williams who was fatally wounded on the 11th of September, 1914 when serving as a member of the first group of Australians ashore in Rabaul in Papua New Guinea, during the Battle of Bita Paka.”
Warrant Officer Menhenick said the camaraderie shared between service men and women continues to strengthened today.
Enlisting with the Royal Australian Navy in 1982, he was deployed on border protection Operation Cranberry in 1999 and later Operation Resolute in 2011.
In 2001, Warrant Officer Menhenick was invited to represent The Australian Defence Force in the Solomon Islands and Tonga as a member of the Defence Corporation Project where he was posted until 2005.
Throughout his career he has been honoured with the Australian Defence Medal, and first, second, third and fourth Clasp to the Defence Long Service Medal and Australian Operational Service Medal.
“In the trenches of Gallipoli, on the sea or in the skies above, the qualities of mateship, courage, honour and resilience have infused themselves in all Australians,” he said.
“Whether navy, army of airforce, the spirit of the Anzac forms part of our identity. It is what it is meant to be an Australian.”
Royal Australian Navy Warrant Officer 1 John Menhenick was a guest speaker at Anzac Day services in Smithton, Stanley and Marrawah on April 25. Picture: Ashleigh Force.