Vietnam Vets and Peacekeepers Commemorated at Tea Gardens – News Of The Area – News Of The Area

“I WAS ONLY NINETEEN” was the song that marked the opening of the Vietnam Veterans and Peacekeepers Service held Thursday 18 August at 11am at Tea Gardens ANZAC Park.
The commemoration service was hosted by the Hon., Sec., Mrs Jennefer Ross-Henry.
The recently arrived Reverend Richard Goscombe gave the Requiem and finished with the Lord’s Prayer.
The Address of Remembrance was provided by Mr Bruce Murray, summarised as, “The Vietnam War was Australia’s longest military engagement of the 20th Century.
“The arrival of the Australian Army Training Team in South Vietnam during July and August 1962 marked the start of Australia’s involvement in the war.
“By the time the war had come to an end, almost 60,000 Australians served during a decade of conflict between 1962 and 1972.
“Tragically, 521 of them died and 3000 were wounded.
“The Battle of Long Tan was fought on this day the 18 August 1966, in a rubber plantation near the village of Long Tan.
“The men of Delta Company, 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment, faced a force of some 2000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops.
“The battle was fought in wet and muddy conditions during a heavy tropical downpour. By the end of the day, seventeen Australians had been killed in action and 25 were wounded, one of whom died a few days later.”
Mr Murray, also referenced a memoir from veteran, Mr Bob Freshfield, who wrote, “Not for us, the march down capital city streets.
“Not for us, the bands playing, or the flag waving, and the sounds of a cheering throng.
“Yes, some returning soldiers marched in battalion formation as they embarked from HMAS Sydney in their home port States.
“Many, many more, like National Servicemen, doctors and nurses, were more likely to be flown into Sydney Airport on a late-night journey, then dispersed among their waiting families, or wait hours for a connecting flight or train ride home.
“The manner of our homecoming affected the way in which we Vietnam Veterans recovered from the war, those who arrived late at night to no fanfare and the seeming indifference of the military had more trouble adjusting to life at home than did those whose return was more public and who had had the benefit of a couple of weeks, debriefing and unwinding on board HMAS Sydney, with those they had served with, before reaching Australia.”
In 1987, following the belated but successful Welcome Home parade for Vietnam veterans in Sydney, Prime Minister Bob Hawke announced that Long Tan Day would be known as Vietnam Veterans Day.
The day is for the community to pause and reflect on the bravery, teamwork and endurance that Australians displayed throughout the war and in peacekeeping operations.
Wreaths for fallen were laid by Mrs Annette Taylor and Mrs Lois McShane as well as representatives of our Australian Defence Forces: Navy, Army, and Air Force.
Mr Terry Munright gave a stirring recitation of the Ode, The Commemoration of the Fallen.
Thank you to Mr Ross Barry, Mr Kevin McInerney, Mr Uwe Zeil (audio), members, and all others who volunteered on this day.
Veterans and their friends and families enjoyed a BBQ and beer at the Tea Gardens Country Club.
The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance – Lest We Forget.
By Sandra BOURKE, Member, Tea Gardens RSL sub-Branch

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