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By Lt. Cmdr. Denver Applehans, Commander, Amphibious Force, U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

-- Americans and Australians commemorated the World War II Battle of the Coral Sea in Surfer's Paradise, Australia May 1.

The event marked the 68th anniversary of the battle which occurred May 4-8, 1942 and is known by many in Australia as the battle that saved Australia. An allied naval task group composed of U.S. and Australian ships fought an Imperial Japanese Fleet that was pressing to invade Port Moresby in New Guinea.

The battle was the first naval battle in which the fleets did not come within naval gun range but instead fought the entire battle with aircraft launched from their respective aircraft carriers.

The battle itself ended in a stalemate, but stopped the Japanese advance, kept the supply and communication lines between the U.S. and Australia open and led to a strategic victory for the allies by reducing the number of Imperial aircraft carriers and aircraft available for the Japanese invasion of Midway Island.

The ceremony in Surfer's Paradise honored those lost in the battle as well as the close relationship between the United States and Australia that was forged in part from this battle.

Speakers included Mr. Chris Corkey of the U.S. Consulate in Sydney, Mr. Brett Raguse, a member of the Australian Parliament, Rear Adm. Richard Landolt, commander, Amphibious Forces U.S. 7th Fleet and veterans of the Battle of Coral Sea.

"Let us today remember the heroes of the Battle of the Coral Sea, let us celebrate our enduring friendship and continue our mutual commitment to supporting peace and stability in the region and around the globe," said Landolt.

The ceremony ended with the laying of 24 wreaths on the monument from various Australian and American groups in honor of those who died at that pivotal battle. Many of the wreaths included sashes that echoed the words written on the monument, "Lest we forget."

Many of the veterans and their family members who attended the ceremony commented that holding ceremonies such as this one help to remind both Americans and Australians of the sacrifices made and the cost of freedom.

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