Fraser Coast residents lined the streets and cheered as the crew of HMAS Maryborough marched through its namesake city on September 3, ahead of the ship’s decommissioning later this month.
CAPTION: HMAS Maryborough personnel march past the Maryborough Cenotaph during their freedom-of-entry parade. Story by Midshipman Jackson Marsh.
Led by Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Mitchell Thomas, the group was granted freedom-of-entry into the city by a senior Queensland Police representative.
Training Ship Maryborough cadets and the Maryborough RSL Highlanders Pipe Band accompanied the marching officers and sailors.
The freedom-of-entry to the city is a right granted to a military unit by a local government, authorising that unit to march through the streets of a city on a ceremonial occasion with ‘swords drawn, drums beating, bands playing and colours flying’.
The granting of the freedom-of-entry is a demonstration of the citizens’ trust and confidence in the armed group, and is a symbolic honour often granted to mark an anniversary or significant milestone, such as the decommissioning of a ship.
It was a particularly special event for several sailors on board Maryborough who come from the region itself, including Leading Seaman Cameron Morrisson, the ship’s longest-serving member.
“I’ve essentially served a third of my career on board. Maryborough has been a huge part of my life and career both professionally and personally,” Leading Seaman Morrisson said.
“To be able to be back home and show not only my family and friends, but other serving members’ families, what we work towards and dedicate our lives to is quite special.”
Following the parade, Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour hosted a civic reception at Town Hall.
CAPTION: Commanding Officer HMAS Maryborough Lieutenant Commander Mitchell Thomas cuts the cake with World War 2 veteran Lillian Coyne.
Lillian Coyne, 97, joined the Navy in 1945 and was present at the launch of the original Maryborough. Mrs Coyne is the last remaining female World War 2 veteran in the region and was invited to cut the cake with Lieutenant Commander Thomas.
Lieutenant Commander Thomas said marching through Maryborough’s namesake city was a special moment for himself and the crew.
“I don’t think anything will ever professionally match being the Commanding Officer of Maryborough, and to have the privilege of being a part of this final freedom-of-entry, prior to decommissioning later this month, is a career highlight,” Lieutenant Commander Thomas said.