MRF-D Marines revisit history at military museum
DARWIN, Northern Territory, Australia -- The Australian American Association of the Northern Territory and Marines with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin toured the Darwin Military Museum Aug. 11.
Marines viewed tributes to the U.S., such as a memorial for fallen allied troops in the Northern Territory during World War II and an American flag flown in memory of those sacrifices, during their visit.
“American science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein once coined the term, ‘Strangers in a Strange Land,’” said Tom Lewis, the museum director. “You Marines might feel you’re just that, but for us, we don’t find you strangers at all. Americans were here in Darwin 71 years ago in action together (with Australians) fighting against a common enemy.”
During that time, the Imperial Japanese Army attacked the shores of the Northern Territory in what is known as the largest bombing by a foreign power of Australia.
“We recently opened a new display, ‘American alliance in the Top End,’” said Lewis. “It outlines the partnership that began with the United States Army Air Forces flying the only defending aircraft on Feb. 19, 1942.”
The Australians and Americans formed a strong bond that still exists today resultant of the attack.
“How did the alliance manifest itself,” asked Lewis. “The answer is in sacrifice of the ultimate nature – blood.”
Of the approximately 235 casualties from the attack, 114 were U.S. service members and 14 were U.S. civilians, according to Lewis. This means that more than half of those killed in action during the bombing of Darwin were American.
America and Australia fought shoulder-to-shoulder throughout World War II.
“The fighting men of the states and their compatriots gave their all, and victory was won by the allies against the forces of totalitarianism,” said Lewis.
“Feb. 19, 1942, was the beginning of a fruitful union between America and Australia, which eventually saw allied victory in the Pacific.”
The bombing of Darwin is still a tragic event that weighs on the hearts of all Australians.
“We will never forget,” said Lewis, “and the Darwin Military Museum asks that you don’t either.”