• Able Seaman Jarryd Boyd, Royal Australian Navy. (NITV)
On the eve of the ANZAC centenary, Jarryd Boyd, a 25-year-old Biripi man and combat systems operator, reflects on the pride and opportunity he attributes to the Royal Australian Navy.
Andrea Booth

24 Apr 2015 - 7:07 PM  UPDATED 29 Jun 2015 - 6:14 PM

A century on from the first landings at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, the vast scale of the country's commemorations demonstrate just how strongly those tragic events remain seared to the nation's consciousness. But what does ANZAC Day mean to young servicemen and women of this generation, today?

"Pride," says Able Seaman Jarryd Boyd, a 25-year-old Biripi man from Bulahdelah in NSW, who is currently serving in his sixth year as a combat systems operator with the Royal Australian Navy.

"I love my country so I love putting on the uniform. I'm proud of my heritage and it’s a job I love doing."

Boyd is the third man from his family to enlist in the Australian Navy.

"My grandfather was in the Navy … and I had cousins in the Army – about  five of them. So ANZAC Day was always a very special day."

Boyd's grandfather, Patrick Syron, fought in the Korean War. On ANZAC Day, along with his own medals, Boyd wears those that belonged to his grandfather.

"It's an honour for me to march with my mates and march in honour of him and wear his medals; it's a massive honour."

Opportunities on board

Boyd, who has spent seven months at sea, says that the discipline of the navy changed his life. He hopes that the service can support and employ more young Indigenous Australians.

"There's so much available for Indigenous people in the military but I don’t think that it is exposed enough for Indigenous people to know," he said.

"We see Navy ads on TV and all that, but remote communities don't all have TV, so the message doesn't really get there as much."

"The Navy has a massive focus on… just getting on board with anything Indigenous," Boyd said.

"With NAIDOC Week, the Navy gets right behind that." Plus, this year the military flew Indigenous Army, Navy and Airforce personnel from around Australia to Melbourne to play the Australian Football League (AFL) Fitzroy Stars.

"I've been in the Navy AFL for five, six years, and this year has been the first time that there has been an all Indigenous side. There was heavy backing from Defence for that."

The Australian Defence Force offers a cadetship program for Indigenous Australians, and the Defence Indigenous Development Program that provides literacy, military and leadership training, and cultural appreciation.

With reporting from Tara Callinan. Watch the story here.