‘100 Years of Mateship’ event celebrates U.S.-Australian bond

Australians celebrating “‘100 years of Mateship”’ between Australia and the United States at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on June 20 are (left to right): Jeremy Bowles; Wing Commander Andrew State of the Royal Australian Air Force; and Joseph Otmar. Bowles and Otmar are dressed in period uniforms like those worn during the Battle of Hamel on July 4, 1918. (U.S. Air Force photo/Glenn DeBerry)

Australians celebrating “‘100 years of Mateship”’ between Australia and the United States at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on June 20 are (left to right): Jeremy Bowles; Wing Commander Andrew State of the Royal Australian Air Force; and Joseph Otmar. Bowles and Otmar are dressed in period uniforms like those worn during the Battle of Hamel on July 4, 1918. (U.S. Air Force photo/Glenn DeBerry)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- A Nieuport 23 replica World War I aircraft and a display of World War I equipment and weaponry were the highlights of a commemoration and celebration of “100 years of Mateship” between Australia and the United States. The celebratory event took place June 20 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Wing Cmdr. Andrew State, Royal Australian Air Force, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate, outlined the importance of the celebration to about 120 guests at Twin Base golf course clubhouse. State serves as his country’s supply liaison officer to the U.S. Air Force; senior national representative for Australia, assisting his countrymen who come to Wright-Patterson AFB to work at such entities as the National Air and Space Intelligence Center; and chairman of the 21-nation foreign liaison officers community on base.

The centenary marks the first time Australian and American troops served side by side during the Battle of Hamel. For the next century Australian and American troops have had each other’s backs, and that special relationship continues to this day.

“The Battle of Hamel on July 4, 1918, was the first time Australian and U.S. troops fought side by side ... Since then our troops have served alongside each other in every major conflict,” State said. “Mateship is defined as an embodiment of equality, loyalty and friendship, and mateship formed under fire is even more enduring.”

State honored all U.S. service personnel and welcomed special guests who had a connection with the Australian military, including Ken Saunders, whose mother served with the Australian Army during WWII; and Joseph Otmar, whose great uncle fought at the battle of Hamel.