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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (August 26, 1998 - The National)--- Forty-eight Australian war veterans will be leaving today for Kokoda to retrace their footsteps to the place where they made their last stand and stopped the Japanese march towards Port Moresby and Australia.

The veterans are survivors of the 2/14th Battalion Army who fought at Isurava on the Kokoda Trail in 1942, during World War II.

Most of the veterans are in their late 70's and 80's and for many of them it is their first trip back to PNG since the war.

They have prepared to make this pilgrimage to the battle site at Isurava and also conduct a service at Bomana War Cemetery outside Port Moresby.

The pilgrimage, called "The Last Paradise," will include a service to be held at Isurava today to celebrate the 56th anniversary of the major battle. The encounter saw the 2/14th Battalion arrive at Isurava to relieve the embattled 39th Battalion, which was about to be encircled and over-run by the Japanese.

The pilgrims who arrived here on Sunday aboard a RAAF aircraft will be flown by military aircraft to Kokoda and on to Isurava by a chopper.

Four members of the Port Moresby Return Services League will assist the pilgrims, together with Australian High Commission representatives and the Australian Defense Force.

Tomorrow morning the pilgrims will conduct a memorial service at Bomana War Cemetery.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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