The Dyldam Parramatta Eels dedicated their Round Five encounter at Pirtek Stadium against the Penrith Panthers as a ‘Salute to Service’, acknowledging the commitment and dedication for all the servicemen and women in the military and emergency services who contribute to the Parramatta district.
As part of the Blue and Gold Game Day experience, the Army Rock Band, and local service vehicles were in the TryLine City precinct in the lead up to the game, with the Army Rock Band returning for halftime entertainment and the Pol-Air helicopter flying over Pirtek Stadium.
Captain Chris Batten from the Horsley Park NSW Rural Fire Service said the ‘Salute to Service’ was a great way to engage with the community and promote safety.
Batten and the rest of his brigade had a fire truck available for Eels Members and fans to explore, proving a huge hit with the young Blue and Gold. Batten believes the attendance in front of thousands of people, in particular juniors, can be beneficial for the community.
“In the case we may have to go into a house for a fire, they aren’t scared of the fireman dressed up in uniform,” Batten said after showcasing his firetruck and equipment to the thousands of fans streaming through the Pirtek Stadium gates.
The ‘Salute to Service’ was a great day for The Australian Defence Force, with heavy involvement in the entire Blue and Gold game day, both before and during the game.
“For us it means a great deal because it means that the Parramatta Eels, the NRL and the public that supports the NRL are all showing their appreciation for the service of all the servicemen and women of Australia.” said Major Matt Chilmaid.
“We do our best to get out into the community as often as possible and promote brand awareness activities, us going out and performing for the public and for community events in this uniform, it’s positive PR for the services.”
“I’m often surprised at how many small children get excited to see us in uniform. It’s not just a recognition of the uniform but its great for us to connect with the children and build those relationships.” Chilmaid added.
Major Matt Chilmaid is also the officer commanding and Music Director of the combined Australian Army Band. He joined the service as a musician 15 years ago.
“Much like all the musicians that are here today, I do it because I love the job. It’s all about playing music in a wide variety of genres.”
Megan Benett has been in the Army for the past 5 years as a musician, joining at the age of 19 where she was inspired to give back to the country and servicemen and women through her passion for music.
“I am a soldier first, but my job within the Army is to play music and throw my support behind things this, which allows me to give back to our soldiers.” Benett said.
“Having a reserve band in Newcastle was a perfect opportunity to keep playing music but also use those skills to give back to the ADF and the community.”