SGT Boyd at Cassino Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery with veteran Eric de Lautour, of Tauranga.
26 May 2014
Army medic Sergeant (SGT) Jeremy Boyd, formerly from Timaru, was inspired by the 38 war veterans who he recently accompanied to Cassino in Italy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Cassino battles.
The veterans are all in their nineties and are accompanied by a 25-strong team of health professionals and carers from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand.
SGT Boyd, who is an army medic based at Waiouru Camp said, “There was a lot to do but it was very rewarding.
"They were really great guys to talk to, and full of fun. They enjoyed themselves at the commemorations, and we enjoyed being with them."
The veterans attended a service at the Cassino Railway Station, which was of special significance to the New Zealanders because it was the scene of a fierce battle between the 28th Maori Battalion and the opposing forces.
They also attended two commemoratives services at the Cassino Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, one to honour New Zealand veterans, and one to honour the British. His Royal Highness Prince Harry attended both, and spoke to each veteran individually, shook their hands and thanked them for their efforts 70 years ago.
The Kiwi veterans also attended a service at the Monte Cassino Abbey where the NZDF Maori Cultural Group sang.
"That was very special,” said SGT Boyd. "The old chaps loved it, and we did too."
The delegation is on its way home to New Zealand but there will be no rest for SGT Boyd and the other carers. They will soon depart for France to look after a smaller contingent of veterans who will travel there for the D-Day commemorations.
"Accompanying the veterans is worth every second", says SGT Boyd.
"If I have as much energy and enthusiasm for life as they do when I'm in my nineties I'll be very grateful."