Proud To March On Familiar Streets


Flying Officer Nathan Peters, of 37 Squadron, explains why this Anzac Day holds a particular significance for him. (As told to Flight Lieutenant Lily Lancaster.)

Forster is kind of my second home. I have been going there since I was four, and my dad since he was three. This Anzac Day I wanted to represent the Air Force in a place that is special to me, so it will be my first time marching in Forster.

Although Anzac Day was something we talked about, it was never a big event in our family. We didn’t go to dawn services, but we would always watch the Sydney service on TV, and we would stand in the lounge room for a minute’s silence.

As I learnt more about the military, it became important to me to attend the dawn service, even when I didn’t have someone come along with me. I think the day means more to me now because I consciously made that decision. Since I joined, my mum and dad haven’t missed a dawn service.

This Anzac Day holds particular significance for me as it’s the first since I earned my wings, something I have dedicated the past eight years of my life to achieving. I know my course mates had a similarly long journey – it is not made to be easy and not without sacrifice. It feels surreal to be returning to this one place that I’ve walked up and down since I was a kid, now as an Air Force pilot, having achieved that goal.

This year will be something a bit special. My aunty, uncle, mum and dad will be there – their first Anzac Day seeing me march as an Air Force member. It is actually the first time my aunty and uncle will see me in uniform.

Last year I had the opportunity to fly over Forster in the C-130J Hercules. It was pretty unreal to know my family were waving up at me. They are all proud – my mum tears up every time she sees me in uniform and my dad is a softie too.

When I told my family I wanted to join the military, all these stories started to come out. My grandfather served in the Navy, and my great-grandfathers, one [served] in the Army and the other was a pilot during World War 2, who died on a training flight as an instructor on the Avro Anson. My great-nan assisted the local Land Army, where the women did anything and everything they could to help with logistics during the war. My family have felt the impact of war more intimately than I’d ever realised.

When I march down the familiar Forster streets, I’ll be wearing my family’s medals, which are being taken out of the box for the first time in 20 years.

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