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Helicopter crash stuns Otaki Anzac crowd

Apr 27th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

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PROUDLY MARCHING: 1800 ignore the rain forecast to march in the dawn parade.

A MINUTE of silence was observed about 9.30am during Otaki RSA’s Anzac Day commemoration when news of the air force helicopter crash at Pukerua Bay was announced.

The sombre news of the New Zealand Air Force helicopter crash brought a dramatic change of mood to the Otaki & District Memorial RSA rooms, just as people were finishing breakfast and starting a karaoke session. 

President Don Moselen, who earlier read the Ode to the Fallen at the dawn parade, says they were stunned at the tragedy and the loss of three young lives.

“I guess we can liken it to the young lives who died at Gallipoli,” Mr Moselen says.

“Anzac Day will have even far greater significance for their families.”

Despite the tragic news, the traditionally popular Anzac activities at Otaki went smoothly, with Kapiti & District Coast Mayor Jenny Rowan and MP Darren Hughes among the regular attendees at the 6am dawn service.

CODY WATSON (9), who marched with the Otaki Cubs in the dawn parade, wears his dad's Otaki Volunteer Fire brigade cap.

CODY WATSON (9), who marched with the Otaki Cubs in the dawn parade, wears his dad's Otaki Volunteer Fire Brigade cap.

Walking slowly to the beat of a lone drum from the Pipes and Drums of Horowhenua, marchers proceeded from the RSA rooms to the Cenotaph in Main Street where the crowd built to about 1800.

Threatening rain held off as wreaths were laid, including those from the Otaki RSA Veterans and Women’s Section, RNZAF, Mayor Rowan, Mr Hughes and D Company 28 Maori Battalion Otaki Branch.

Individual bouquets and poppies were also left by members of the public who laid their own personal tributes.

The Anzac dedication was read by Mayor Rowan, and the benediction and prayer by Reverend Ian Campbell from the Otaki Anglican Church before the Linton No.2 Signals Squadron delivered the three gun volley.

The ‘quick march’ back to the RSA rooms for breakfast at 7am saw RSA head cook Alison Macaulay and her six volunteers kept busy for the next couple of hours making sure the mince, baked beans, sausages, scrambled eggs and toast kept coming.

“I’ve never run out yet, touch wood,” says Mrs Macaulay “I’ve always got chips to cook.”

The RSA’s bar was already open in time for the breakfast rush and the traditional drop of rum in the coffee.

AN ARMY MARCHES ON ITS STOMACH: RSA head cook Alison Macauley with just some of the 40 kilos of mince cooked for the day.

AN ARMY MARCHES ON ITS STOMACH: RSA head cook Alison Macaulay with just some of the 40 kilos of mince cooked for the day.

Known as the ‘gunfire breakfast’, rum in coffee was taken by many soldiers before facing battle.

Manager and secretary of the Otaki RSA, Tony King, says the numbers were slightly down on last year and thinks a lot of people probably heard the rain forecast and simply pulled the duvet covers back up again.

Karaoke and a sing-song was enjoyed by those who stayed the distance until the 5pm Beating the Retreat at Otaki Cemetery brought the day to a close.

Lone piper Don McAlpine from the Pipes and Drums of Horowhenua piped in the people as they arrived.

Mr Moselen opened the ceremony and prayers were read by the Reverend Princess Monga from the Rangiatea Church.

As the Last Post played, the flag was lowered by Corporal Connor Johnson (16) of the No.49 (District of Kapiti) Air Training Cadets.

The flag was then folded by members of the Kapiti ATC and presented to 96-year-old veteran Mrs Nan Simcox by Corporal Johnson.

It’s the second time Mrs Simcox, who served as an army nursing sister in the South Pacific, Italy and the Middle East, has received the flag.

Posies decorating the grave of every serviceman in Otaki, were made by volunteers from the Otaki RSA Women’s Section who lay them the day before.

President of the Women’s Section, Norma Cooksley, says they make about 400 posies from donated flowers for the four Otaki cemeteries and provide about 175 smaller posies for Waikanae.

Mr King believes they’re on track to match last year’s total of $14,800.

Citizens Commemoration Services were held in Manakau, Waikanae, and Rangiatea Otaki. A Civil Service is held in Paraparaumu.

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