Recognising dedication: The special role of Forrest MP Nola Marino’s family in the Brunswick Anzac Day service

Judy Mihich and Forrest MP Nola Marino. Credit: Sean Van Der Wielen/Harvey-Waroona Reporter

For those in our community who have lost loved ones in conflict, Anzac Day can be one of raw emotion.

It is a particularly poignant day for Judy Mihich, who has a small but important role in the Brunswick Junction Anzac Day service.

Every year, Ms Mihich is the first person to lay a wreath at the town’s service, in honour of her father Jack.

Part of the 2/28th Battalion, Ms Mihich said her dad would not leave Brunswick Junction until she was old enough to be left at home with her mother.

“It was on my third birthday he left Brunswick and never came home,” she said.

He was originally deployed to the Middle East before the Battalion went to New Guinea in 1943.

Ms Mihich’s sister, Forrest MP Nola Marino, said a number of soldiers from the region were part of the Battalion sent to New Guinea.

“They crossed the Busu River and 13 men drowned in the crossing because it was in flood,” she said.

“When they got to the other side, Judy’s dad and a young bloke were tasked with being the forward scouts to spend the night on the beach,” she said.

The two men dug out a foxhole, but they had trouble keeping their fighting supplies and heads above water in the wet weather as the Japanese forces fired over their heads.

The next day, the Japanese soldiers charged and Ms Mihich’s father was killed by a sniper.

Ms Marino and Ms Mihich’s mother found out about the death after a female post office worker rode her bicycle out to their Brunswick farm with the telegram delivering the bad news.

“(My mum) got into the train with her mum and they went to Bridgetown so that his mum wouldn’t be told the same way she was,” Ms Mihich said.

Her and Ms Marino’s mother would pick flowers from her own garden and lay them at the memorial in memory of her first husband every year, often being the only person to do so.

As a result of her dedication, their mother were asked to lay the first wreath when the Brunswick Junction Anzac Day service restarted 30 years ago.

When she died in 2002, Ms Mihich took over her mother’s role in the service.

For her, the loss of her father is still raw.

“Anzac Day is always emotional and it never leaves you,” she said.

“You never forget.”

Source: Harvey-Waroona Reporter