Morning Report presenter: About a hundred former United States Marines and their wives are in New Zealand on what’s become a regular pilgrimage for many of them. Peter Aranyi reports:
Peter Aranyi: A memorial stands at Wellington’s Aotea Quay to members of the 2nd Division of the United States Marine Corps, who stopped in New Zealand before going on to die at war in the Pacific. Every five years since 1963 former Marines and their family return to renew friendships and to honour their fallen comrades. Trip leader Bill Crumpacker [?] says after more than 45 years the Marines that survive remember New Zealand as a wonderful place where they were treated as real friends by the local people.
Bill Crumpacker: Our old Division history book, our chapter on New Zealand is entitled, ‘The Land They Adored’, and that was about our stay in New Zealand and I believe that says the whole story, we just, we thought we were in heaven when we were down here and it was just a wonderful tour of duty.
Peter Aranyi: But even in peaceful New Zealand military life wasn’t always easy. Bill Crumpacker [?] recalls some of the training he and his comrades-in-arms received before going off to war.
Bill Crumpacker: One day we were marched out of camp at Paekakariki with full pack – that of course is the top pack, the bottom pack, rifles, the whole gear – and we marched from Paekākāriki to Foxton in – not one day, I think about nine hours. And when we got up there we were supposed to march back but we hiked up on the road and when we got to Foxton and took our boots off, there was no way of getting them back on, so they had to truck us back to Paekākāriki.
Peter Aranyi: Many of the former Marines and their family have planned to travel throughout New Zealand over the next few weeks to renew their acquaintance with the country and the people who made them feel so welcome.