EPE supported our local school, New Farm State School in their commemoration of Anzac Day on Thursday. Warwick Penrose was the guest speaker joined by firefighter James Dowdell from the Fire Department of New York City. Warwick spoke to the Primary School children about his experiences as a Captain in the Australian Army and in particular his journey to Gallipoli on Anzac Day in 1995. He also spoke about continuing the Anzac Spirit in our daily lives. Warwick was joined by FDNY firefighter James Dowdell at the ceremony, who spoke of the spirit of cooperation not only between Australia and New Zealand, but also with the US.
They told the children a story about when Warwick in his role with the Australian Army had gone on a counterterror training trip to New York in the lead up to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Warwick spent weeks with the Fire Department of New York where they were benchmarking procedures for CBRN incidents in their training for securing the Olympics in Sydney. Warwick spent time with Rescue 4 in Queens and met FDNY Lt. Kevin Dowdell and his team. As a momento of the cooperation between Australia and the US, the pair exchanged gifts. Kevin’s gift to Warwick was a FDNY helmet signed by Kevin and his team. Three years later in September 11, Kevin was killed in the Twin Towers along with a number of his team.
In Washington in 2011, Australia’s prime minister, Julia Gillard visited Capitol Hill and offered “a precious possession” – the tale of a fire helmet that proves the enduring legacy of 9/11’s heroes. Warwick had offered to have the helmet taken back to the US to be returned to Kevin’s family. Ms Gillard presented it to Kevin’s son James from FDNY Ladder 174 in East Flatbush.
As New Farm State School was established in 1901, a number of students who attended the school in the early 1900’s went on to fight in WWI. The school has a memorial with the names of 24 students who died in WWI.