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Wartime tributes paid at OPA Annual Dinner

The contributions of all Old Boys of the College to have represented their nation in uniform since the Boer War were respectfully honoured by the Old Paradians’ Association on Friday night, at the association’s 2015 Annual Dinner at the Park Hyatt Melbourne.

In attendance for the occasion were veterans of World War II, the Vietnam War and the conflict in Afghanistan.

Amongst the many highlights of the evening;

  • Lieutenant Colonel Charles Aloysius Denehy and General John Baker were posthumously inducted into the Old Paradians’ Association Hall of Fame following glorious tributes paid by 1965 College Captain Mike O’Meara;
  • 100 year-old veteran Des O’Connell, the oldest-known living Old Paradian, recited the Ode;
  • Parade College Assistant Principal – Teaching and Learning Andy Kuppe paid tribute to the fallen World War I soldier, poet and Old Paradian WM McDonald;
  • Paul McCrohan acknowledged the sacrifices of those Old Boys who lost their lives in both world Wars; and
  • the new World War II Honor Board, carrying the names of 1127 Old Paradians, was unveiled some 70 years after the Japanese surrender.

VIPs in attendance were Margaret Baker, wife of the late General John Baker, who had flown in from Canberra; General Baker’s sisters Jean Blencowe and Margaret Charlton; Dr. Kristin Schneider to whom Lieutenant Colonel Charles Denehy was a great uncle and Kristen’s daughter Miriam Towns; Des O’Connell and his son Tony; and 92 year-old Old Paradian and World War II veteran Bernard Anderson.

Old Paradians Hall of Fame inductee Kevin Rickard and his wife Elaine, who had jetted in from Sydney, were also there, as was Joan Dunne and her daughter Cath to represent the late Hall of Famer Bill Dunne.

The National President of The Naval Association of Australia and Old Paradian Russell Pettis and his wife Deborah were also present, as was Parade College Principal Dr Denis Moore.

Apologies were accepted from the following Old Paradians – Major General Andrew James “Jim” Molan AO DSC retired, the Rt Hon Andrew Robb AO Minister for Trade and Investment; Australian Senator and leader of the parliamentary caucus of the Australian Greens Richard Di Natale; and Victorian Minister for Police and Minister for Corrections the Hon. Wade Noonan.

Old Paradians’ Association President Lewis Derrico, who told guests that Australia is very much the better for the Parade presence, considered Friday night’s occasion “something special that I will never forget”.

“To see a bagpiper walk down the stairs and then lead the attendees into the Grand Ballroom; to view old film footage that broadly told the story of Old Paradians who have served their nation in uniform; to listen to Des O’Connell recite the ode and a bugle player deliver the Last Post and Reveille; to reflect in a minute’s silence as the names of Old Paradians killed in action rolled by on the screen – these were moments that will remain with me.”

Guests were entertained by Musical Director Ross Chapman and the Old Paradians 10-piece Big Band, whose repertoire included marches, swing and rock. They also heard Tyson Legg (2000) perform Dame Vera Lynn’s ‘There’s a Land of Begin Again’ as names and images of Old Boys lost over the past 12 months appeared on big screens.
Each guest received a commemorative lapel pin fashioned in the shape of the old Parade cadets badge as a fitting memento of a truly special occasion.

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