VIETNAM Veterans Day Commemoration Services will be held this Friday 18 August, in recognition of the 51st Anniversary of the Battle Of Long Tan.
More than 60,000 Australians fought in the Vietnam War, and over 500 lost their lives.
Like many Vietnam Veterans, Bulahdelah RSL sub branch President, Peter Millen, was confronted by the hostile moratorium protest and shunned for his involvement in the war when he returned to Australia.
“We faced bitterness and resentment and were called ‘baby killers’ when we returned home, if you had been in Vietnam you were targeted.” he said.
“After disembarking in Sydney, we walked down the street in our uniforms and were assaulted by anti-Vietnam protesters, I ended up in hospital and still have a scar from that incident.”
Peter enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 1967 and was assigned to the HMAS ANZAC as a medic.
The following year, at 23 years of age, he was deployed to escort the HMAS Sydney to Vung Tau Harbour in Vietnam.
“It was my first trip,” Peter told News Of The Area.
“In Vung Tau, we sat in anchor and waited, I remember there were so many ships in the harbor and a flyover of about 30 choppers going in all directions.”
Peter said the HMAS Sydney was nicknamed the Vung Tau Ferry as it made 23 trips to Vietnam, transporting thousands of troops, supplies and vehicles.
Peter went on to specialise in hyperbaric medicine, and was drafted to the RAN Clearance Diving Team as a medic.
He was later deployed to Papua New Guinea and the Philippines and was involved in clearing more than 2,000 pieces of unexploded WWII munitions.
Peter said unlike other wars where veterans returned as heroes, “there was no welcome home” for those who served in Vietnam.
“It wasn’t until 1987 when there was an acceptance march that our service was acknowledged,” he said.
“It is important that all veterans of all conflicts and peacekeeping missions be recognised equally, and not forgotten.”
The sounding of the Last Post at Commemorations this week, will honour the lives lost and sacrifices made.
Vietnam Veterans Day Services
Commemoration Service at Meade Street Cenotaph commencing at 11.00am.
A sausage sizzle will be held at the Men’s Shed following the service.
Kaurah and Tea Gardens:
Combined Commemoration Service at Tea Gardens Anzac Park commencing at 11.00am.
Attendees are requested to arrive by 10.45am.
Lunch at Tea Gardens Country Club will follow the service.
By Daniel SAHYOUN