Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Hon Dr Mike Kelly AM MP yesterday joined the Secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano in laying a wreath in recognition of the contribution of both countries in the battle of the Coral Sea.
The dedication occurred in a week where services were held around the country commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea.
At the ceremony, Dr Kelly spoke of the significant role the battle played within our nation’s history.
“While US and Japanese carriers were engaged in a furious battle, the first in which naval aircraft carriers faced each other over the horizon, Vice Admiral Crace’s Australian United States Support Force held off a push from Japanese forces to occupy Port Moresby.
Dr Kelly said that it was an important battle both in military and historical terms: “This battle was conducted at a time when the Japanese invasion fleet was on its way to Port Moresby and Australia would have been next in line. The sustained fighting effort of the Australian and United States battle ships saw the Japanese reverse course and then call off their invasion.”
“Many have referred to this moment as our darkest hour but the combined effort of both nations convinced Australians that our two countries could stave off an invading force. It was a moment when our confidence in ourselves and our relationship with the United States was bolstered.”
“The effect on the Japanese was devastating – forced back and into the ultimately disastrous attempt to find a land based path to Port Moresby.”
“In the months and years since, our relationship with the United States has grown and deepened, but we should never forget the value that these relationships have proven in the past.”
“As Australians, we remain grateful for the Americans who came to our aid and with whom we fought as one,” Dr Kelly said.
Elyse Gatt (Dr Kelly) 02 6277 4840 or 0459 810 654
Defence Media Operations 02 6127 1999