When Leading Seaman Brooke Summers was a 14-year-old she commemorated Anzac Day in her home town of Darwin as an Army cadet. Little did she know, 20 of her future Anzac Days would be commemorated as a serving sailor in the Navy.
Leading Seaman Summers was born in the north-eastern corner of Arnhem Land in Gove, in the Northern Territory.
Spending her formative years moving around the Northern Territory, her family eventually settled in Darwin where she found herself drawn to the Navy twice after being an Army cadet in her teens.
“I originally joined the Navy as a 17-year-old in August 1995, however, I decided to take my optional discharge in the 10th week as I was just not ready at that stage of my life,” Leading Seaman Summers said.
After working for a few years in hotels around Darwin, in November 1999 Leading Seaman Summers was once again drawn to the Navy and this time she didn't look back.
“The Navy has enabled me to visit so many places I never thought I’d see,” Leading Seaman Summers said.
“I’ve just completed 20 years of service. I’ve been deployed with HMAS Kanimbla to Banda Aceh after the Boxing Day tsunami, commissioned HMAS Choules and HMAS Canberra, and will soon commission NUSHIP Supply where I’m currently posted.
“I was a boatswains mate up until 2017 when I transferred category to naval police coxswain.”
Leading Seaman Summers said her career had enabled her to meet a vast array of people and make lifelong mates who she usually endeavours to catch up with every Anzac Day.
“I usually commemorate Anzac Day by marching with my current shipmates and catching up with people I have previously served with,” she said.
“Anzac Day is important to me because I am proud to serve my country and take over from the sailors, soldiers, airmen and women from our history, including those who paid the ultimate sacrifice so Australians can live in freedom.”
Leading Seaman Summers was a musician in her youth, playing tenor saxophone, trombone and trumpet and touring around Australia and Singapore. She had the privilege of meeting Australian singer Normie Rowe when she was a 14-year-old Army cadet commemorating Anzac Day. He gave her his Royal Australian Armoured Corps badge from his Vietnam service, which her mother still has today.
Because of her musical history, she says Anzac Day is more emotional for her when she hears the Last Post, the Naval Hymn and the Australian National Anthem.
“Every time I hear the Australian National Anthem I always get a tingle down my spine and feel a sense of pride,” she said.
When she commemorates Anzac Day this year from her apartment balcony as part of the #StandAtDawn initiative, her neighbours will be sure to hear at least one of these tunes.
Australians are encouraged to commemorate Anzac Day by watching the commemorative service televised from the Australian War Memorial. They can also participate by sharing stories, photos and videos via social media channels.