NZDF Chaplain Honours Predecessor Killed in Action
Chaplain Mason pays tribute to New Zealand Chaplain William Grant at Hill 60 cemetery, which the contingent visited this week.
22 April 2016
Dunedin-born Navy chaplain Colin Mason is relishing his role with the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) contingent preparing to commemorate Anzac Day in Gallipoli.
The 33-strong contingent has entered the final stages of rehearsing the various roles they will play at the two services (the Anzac Commemorative Service at dawn at Anzac Cove and the New Zealand Service at Chunuk Bair) to be held on the Gallipoli peninsula, and the Otago Boys' High School ex-pupil will officiate at both.
Chaplain Mason says that while the role is a great honour, it is also a deeply humbling one.
"Walking around these battlefields and cemeteries, and thinking about the nearly 3,000 Kiwis alone who lie here, is overwhelming. Seeing the conditions in which they fought and died, and the contrast with our world 101 years later, is a unique and totally unforgettable experience.
"The NZDF's core values today are courage, commitment, and comradeship. Those who served here exemplified those values. In a sense those who fell here, and those who survived, led the way for today's servicemen and women," he said.
Chaplain Mason feels especially privileged to have been able to lead the contingent in paying tribute to New Zealand Chaplain William Grant, killed on 28 August 1915 at the age of 56. He is remembered at Hill 60 cemetery, which the contingent visited this week.
"William Grant was the first Kiwi chaplain killed on the battlefield. He was a man who was valued and respected by all those he served with. Today we'd say he was a legend - and he is."
Chaplain Mason, who now lives in Hamilton and commutes weekly to the Devonport Naval Base, has been a Salvation Army officer for nearly 40 years, and a Defence chaplain for the past 18 years.
During his service he has deployed to East Timor and Afghanistan, and has no doubts about the NZDF as a career choice.
"I've been around the NZDF quite a while now, and I think it's an awesome place to work," he said.
"If you meet the standards required, it's an organisation that will provide every opportunity to learn and succeed and a range of experiences and mates that will never be forgotten."
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