ANZAC Day has veteran Kerrie reflecting on her time in the Navy

For Kerrie O’Hagen, the decision to serve her country by joining the Royal Australian Navy was an easy one – she’d grown up listening to stories about her uncle, who was a prisoner of war in Japan during World War II and was equally inspired by her father, a police officer.

A former petty officer steward, Kerrie served 26 years in the Navy, having joined in 1977, and is now a Forestville RSL sub-branch member.

“I remember my mum telling me stories about his (my uncle’s) career in the Army. It is just something that’s always appealed to me. I wanted to serve,” she says.

Kerrie remembers her service as a ‘wonderful experience’ and a ‘blessing’, as she was deployed to America for three years. Her career in the Navy allowed her to develop life skills and meet incredible people.

“It’s nice to put on your uniform every morning and know that you’re helping, you’re serving your country.

“(You learn) teamwork and co- operation. Like in any job, you have really good days and you have really bad days. But it’s your team, the people that you work with, who pull you through some of that. I like the teamwork and the camaraderie.”

To her, ANZAC commemorations are a sign of respect for those who sacrificed their lives in service.

“People gave their lives to this country; my great uncle was a prisoner. And I think it’s the camaraderie and the people that you commemorate. They were very brave. Some of them were very young. And it’s very moving”, she says. “And it’s just a mark of respect.”

“I’ve done ANZAC Day marches in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney. I’ve gone up to the war veterans in Collaroy. Even when I was serving overseas, we were the only Australians in the office, but we did our own commemoration of ANZAC Day.”

Kerrie also believes the ceremonies will continue to be held in the future, as the younger generations are the ones keeping the traditions.

“I think it was the young people that insisted that we commemorate ANZAC Day after World War I; it was the young people that actually pushed forward the idea of having a commemoration. I remember when I first started to march, we had World War I veterans. It was lovely to see them and talk to them. They had the most amazing stories to tell. And it’s a shame that no one bothered to write most of them down because they’re probably lost now.”


Manly War Memorial
The Corso, in front of Manly Town Hall
Starts 4.25am, arrive by 4am
Commemorative service 11am, arrive by 10.40am

Manly Dam
Starts 5.30am, arrive by 5.15am


For more information and other locations, visit the Northern Beaches Council website or contact your local RSL sub-branch.