From one warrior to the next

Leading Aircraftman Pryce Mareko accompanied Air Commander Australia Air Vice-Marshal Steven Roberton, DSC, AM aboard a C-27J Spartan to pay a special visit to his birthplace, Thursday Island.

Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Pryce Mareko accompanied Air Commander Australia Air Vice-Marshal Steven Roberton, DSC, AM aboard a C-27J Spartan to pay a special visit to Thursday Island. LAC Mareko is a Torres Strait Islander local and now Airfield Defence Guard at 2 Security Forces Squadron (SQN).

Participating in a traditional dance to thank the four winds (seasons), LAC Mareko commented on what a privilege it was to have Air Force members, and in particular 35SQN, visit his birthplace.

“It has been a fantastic opportunity to pass on my culture to my workmates and teach them about the island lifestyle,” LAC Mareko said.

“I am growing with my new Air Force family and it is so special to understand where I’ve come from, to get to where I am today.”

Just hours before the chanting and singing began at the ceremony, LAC Mareko saw a bird’s eye view of his homeland from the window of a C-27J Spartan.

Mr Patrick Mau, a Torres Strait lyrical storyteller said his people are connected by the environment, food dance and song.

“These dances symbolise the passing of responsibility from one warrior to the next,” Mr Mau said.

“We are appreciative of the time spent by Air Force members with us and to learn more about our way of life.”

The Torres Strait Island community has significant links to World War Two history and visits to the islands help build a greater understanding and cultural awareness for Air Force members.