Thursday Island will welcome another world champion on its doorstep when IMP ambassador, Kurt Fearnley, arrives to meet 2014 IMP graduate, Elsie Seriat, in the lead-up to the Kokoda trek.
For Elsie, this experience will add to the emotion of finishing the New York City Marathon in November 2014, as she has a strong personal connection, along with the cultural ties between Thursday Island and World War II.
Below is a personal insight provided by Elsie about her upcoming adventure with Kurt, which will no doubt demonstrate her incredible resilience, determination and pride for her country, culture and community. To read the official media statement, click here.
To have another world champion visiting our community is totally amazing; I have great respect for Kurt for what he has done for our country and for himself knowing what his accomplished throughout his career. The biggest adventure would have to be Kokoda, seeing Kurt crawling through the trek is such an inspiration and a true Aussie spirit.
The spirit of Kokoda will be another emotional journey after completing the New York Marathon but at another level considering the history and personal connection behind this trek.
The Torres Strait was a vital strategic half way point to Papua New Guinea and known to be the last defence line to protect Australia against the Japanese during WWII. Importantly, TSI was there to make sure they protect our zone.
My Great Grandfather was Private Seriat Charlie who fought in WWII protecting the Island in the Torres Strait was among 900 TSI men who served in 1941 Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion including A, B, C D and Pioneer company, which was the first indigenous battalion formed in Australia. Mostly women, child and elders were left on the outer island communities.
The Torres Strait Islanders, whilst not officially recognised as Australian citizens (1941-1946), volunteered to serve and protect Australia.
During 1941 – 1945 several raids were conducted at Meruake around the Irian, Jaya and Western Province (PNG) involving TSI Servicemen. My Great Grandfather was not part of this, however other TSI men were, such as Charles Mene and Ted Loban who also served in Europe, Africa and Malaya.
Our Ex-Servicemen throughout history are known for their “Warrior Spirit”. The TSI men clearly demonstrated this “Spirit” to protect their homelands during WWII.
Torres Strait Islanders will always be remembered for their dedication, commitment and sacrifice of their lives to keep peace across the nation to this stage. It is with great honour that I take part in the Kokoda Trek which reminds me of those Ex-Servicemen who had descendants that have contributed their lives in Kokoda.
I take great pride and respect for their great achievements that today I am here to fulfil the footsteps to participate in the expedition of Kokoda, keeping the peace and integrity with none other than Kurt Fearnely.
To be selected to represent IMP with Kurt is surreal. I am humbled, honoured and privileged to represent IMP, Thursday Island, Torres Strait and Indigenous Australia especially in commemorating 100 years of ANZAC.
Elsie Seriat, 2014 IMP Graduate