FIGHTER jets and helicopters soared over Port Elizabeth to celebrate Armed Forces Day yesterday.
About 1 000 members of the South African National Defence Force and over 100 vehicles and aircraft took part in the parade
The day celebrated members of the Defence Force and commemorated the sinking of the SS Mendi in the English Channel on 21 February 1917, when hundreds of South African soldiers died.
President Jacob Zuma laid wreaths at the Emlotheni memorial site in New Brighton before proceeding to the main event at King’s Beach in Summerstrand.
In 2012, Zuma announced 21 February as Armed Forces Day.
Over 4 000 army personnel set up camp in Port Elizabeth over the last week to raise awareness of military service before the celebrations.
The president said: “This annual celebration reflects the nation’s confidence in the defence force. This occasion is a platform to showcase the latest military equipment and technology.
“It also opens up the defence force to our youth so they can find out about career opportunities in the forces.
“Our Armed Forces Day celebration takes place on the anniversary of the sinking of the SS Mendi in 1917. Next year, we will mark the hundredth anniversary of the sinking.
“In this way we recognise our history as well as the future of the national defence force.”