Fallen Heroes Attend St Kilda AFL Game for ANZAC Day

By fallenheroes on May 30, 2014 in News archive
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A fantastic opportunity was presented for the Fallen Heroes Trust to bring some of the Fallen Heroes families together to be recognised in a special way on ANZAC Day. The St Kilda Football Club had their annual Wellington AFL game on ANZAC Day against the Brisbane Lions, and invited the Fallen Heroes to have representatives attend as VIPs. This was an opportunity for Johnny Duncan, Bill Blakie, Dion Taka and Sita Tuinamala (Kirifi Mila’s mother) and their families to watch the game, and to meet each other and the Australian wounded who had also come over for the game. The group were privileged with being on the field boundary line for the opening ceremony, and Tamati and Hamuera Taka got to escort the match ball onto the field and conduct the coin toss.

Tamati and Hamuera Taka ready to take out the match ball.

Tamati and Hamuera Taka ready to take out the match ball.

Tamati and Hamuera Taka ready to take out the match ball.

Viliane Ta’ala (Kirifi Mila’s brother-in-law) said, “It was a great game and experience to be part of. It was really awesome to have service people and their families from the two countries with the opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge their families’ service together in public. To be part of that when you have the reasons we have, gave the day even greater meaning.” Bill Blakie said, “it was great to be recognised as a wounded veteran in a public forum. I had the opportunity to meet with other wounded veterans and discuss issues particular to ourselves. It also gave me the opportunity to meet with Dion Taka and we instantly formed a bond and now keep in regular contact. For my wife Nancy it was great, as she meet Dion’s wife and they talked all night and discussed issues on how they have supported us through our recovery and swapped ideas – just a great chance for her to meet someone who has gone through a similar situation. Thanks to the Fallen Heroes Trust and the St Kida Football Club for a memorable evening.”

Johnny Duncan and Soldier On representatives watch the pre-match remembrance activities

Johnny Duncan and Australian Soldier On representatives watch the pre-match remembrance activities

Kirifi Mila was killed in Afghanistan and was represented by his mother and sisters.  Bill Blakie suffers PTSD as a result of his experiences in Afghanistan, and both Johnny Duncan and Dion Taka were wounded in action in Afghanistan.  The St Kilda Football Club supports the Australia’s Fallen Heroes counterpart, Soldier On, and so because they were in New Zealand, and in the spirit of ANZAC, St Kilda extended the invite to the Fallen Heroes Trust to bring four of our Fallen Heroes families from across New Zealand to be hosted as VIPs for the game.    The Trust was also thankful to the team of enthusiastic NZDF volunteers lead by WO1 Patuwai who collected nearly three thousand dollars for the Trust during the game. An additional highlight for WO1 Patuwai was seeing his son Whenua perform at the start of the game. The Fallen Heroes Trust would like to acknowledge and thank the St Kilda Football Club for their generosity and support.

 

 

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