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Whitsundays say thank you to army

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Deborah Friend

TANKS rolled into Airlie Beach, on Saturday (May 11), but it was all in the name of good relations.

A Freedom of Entry Parade took place in Airlie Beach, with about 150 army personnel from the Third Combat Engineer Regiment (3CER) Townsville, marching down the Main Street.

Freedom of Entry to a city (or region) is a civic honour bestowed on a Military Unit following a long period of working together or a particular event that the community is especially appreciative of.

The Freedom of Entry was bestowed upon the 3CER, on November 10, 2017, by Whitsunday Regional Council, in heartfelt recognition of their invaluable assistance following Tropical Cyclone Debbie (March 28, 2017).

The first 3CER troops were on the ground in the Whitsundays by March 29, 2017, and they stayed until April 12, 2017.

About 200 army personnel helped to clear roads and access ways of debris, assisted with clearing of public spaces, supported the police and SES, and trucked water up to the large tanks, in Cannonvale, so residents had water.

Saturday was the first opportunity, since then, for 3CER to exercise its Freedom of Entry to the Whitsundays, and for the region to publicly say thank you.

The Defence Force event was supported by Whitsunday Regional Council, which assisted with road closures and other organisational elements. 

The Freedom of Entry parade was an extra special celebration, as it was the first granting of Freedom of Entry to the Whitsunday Region.

The parade started on Broadwater Avenue before marching along Main Street, briefly halting for a special challenge to their right of entry and concluding at the Airlie Beach Foreshore.  

The parade was led by a Senior Australian Defence Force Officer, and halted by a senior police officer, who formally granted permission to enter.

Members of the public lined the streets to get a bird’s eye view of the proceedings.

Mayor Ry Collins said he was thrilled that the Freedom of Entry Parade was a huge success with hundreds of people turning out to see the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment receive the Freedom of Entry to the Whitsunday Region. 

“It was a great honour to have had the opportunity to grant the Regiment the privilege of exercising Freedom of Entry, the first time in history that such a tribute has been conferred in the Whitsunday Region,” he said.

“The community enjoyed being able to witness the formal proceedings of the parade and then also having the opportunity to see the army vehicles and meet and talk to the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment.

“Thank you to the parade executive, the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment, the Queensland Police Service and to everyone who came out to witness such a wonderful occasion.”

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