Last year, after returning from a Middle East deployment, Leading Seaman Mardi Longford spent Anzac Day in her hometown of Eden, sharing stories with her family and local veterans.

 This year, she will be standing at dawn outside her Sydney home like other Australians to commemorate the day.

Inspired by ships sailing into Twofold Bay as a child, Leading Seaman Longford joined the Navy in October 2015 as a maritime personnel operator and has enjoyed extensive experience across the fleet, including a six-month Middle East deployment in 2019.

Leading Seaman Longford has also represented Navy in soccer and rugby league and said one of her career highlights was being on an MRH-90 helicopter flight to Dubbo Zoo to visit a rhino sponsored by the Commanding Officer of HMAS Albatross.

She said her service has made her family – especially her ex-fisherman dad who used to take her out on the water at Twofold Bay – exceptionally proud.

Now based at HMAS Kuttabul in Sydney, Leading Seaman Longford said her naval career had instilled a strong sense of pride and brought home the realities and importance of acknowledging those who have served before.

“I usually attend the dawn service at Bondi, which is an incredibly solemn experience watching the sun rising from the ocean,” Leading Seaman Longford said.

“Anzac Day is a very important day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. I feel extremely proud on this day to wear my uniform on behalf of those who have worn it long before me.”

She said it was a sign of respect that we acknowledge and are thankful for the sacrifices that have been made in order for us to live the lives we live.

“It is important that our young generations are educated and reminded why Anzac Day is so important to be commemorated for this very reason,” she said.

In addition to pledging to “stand at dawn” this Anzac Day, Leading Seaman Longford will undertake a “war hero workout”.

“The war hero workout will be dedicated to a fallen soldier,” Leading Seaman Longford said.

“It will be challenging both mentally and physically, but nothing compared to the sacrifice they have paid for our freedom.”

Australians are encouraged to mark Anzac Day by watching the commemorative service televised from the Australian War Memorial and pledging to #StandAtDawn.

They can also participate by sharing stories, photos and videos via social media channels.