Proud to be serving

Royal Australian Navy Able Seaman Amy-Lee d'Hotman de Villiers will take part in a commemorative Anzac Day service being held at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Photo: Corporal Veronica O'Hara

Proud to be serving

Able Seaman Amy-Lee d’Hotman de Villiers was to form part of the Anzac Day catafalque party at Gallipoli this year.

While she won’t see the birthplace of the Anzac legend, she will be in a catafalque party around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

“This was still really an achievement because there were only six of us chosen,” Able Seaman d’Hotman de Villiers said.

“Gallipoli would have been amazing but I still get the same kind of feeling, I’m still proud to be doing it here.”

In the days leading up to the service, Able Seaman d’Hotman de Villiers and other personnel from Australia’s Federation Guard rehearsed their parts in the service despite the public not being able to attend. 

“Doing this will help people commemorate from their homes. It will help them feel like they’re a part of the ceremony,” she said.

“Live streaming the service will help people participate and feel involved in the commemorations.”

Able Seaman d’Hotman de Villiers was born in South Africa where her father was in the army.

“Dad would tell stories about his time serving and the friends he made. Also how they lived in the bush – obviously I didn’t want that, it’s why I joined Navy,” she said.

Her family moved to Australia when she was seven and her love of the ocean while living at Aldinga Beach, South Australia, drew her to the Navy.

“I saw advertisements about being a boatswain’s mate and thought I’d give it a try,” Able Seaman d’Hotman de Villiers said. 

“I didn’t know what I wanted to study or where I wanted to go, so I thought this would be a good stepping stone. It’s worked out so far; I’m in my fifth year.”

With none of her siblings or old friends in Defence, Able Seaman d’Hotman de Villiers’ father looks forward to the stories she takes home.

“A few years ago I was in HMAS Bathurst and we did a drug bust on a yacht carrying drugs from New Zealand,” she said.

“It was really cool to see the whole process. That was another reason I wanted to join, to stop illegal drug trafficking.”

Able Seaman d’Hotman de Villiers first attended council-run Anzac Day services with family after arriving in Australia, not fully understanding what they were about.

“I understand it a lot more now, being in the military,” she said.

“I’m not sure if it’s me getting older and realising more, but you can tell the community think about it leading up to the day.

“Aussies embody the sprit by being there for one another. This is a hard time. It’s nothing like what the Anzacs went through, but it’s another kind of challenge.

“Just look out for each other like the Anzacs would have done in the field.”

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