Nambucca Valley veterans commemorate 50 years since the Vietnam War

Vietnam Veterans stand to attention as the bugler plays the last post at a commemorative service at Bowraville last week, marking Vietnam Veterans Day and the 50th Anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War for Australia

LAST week, on 18 August, Nambucca Valley veterans and their family and friends gathered at the Bowraville Ex-Services Club for a service of commemoration of Vietnam Veterans Day.

Although veterans in the district observe this day annually, this year was even more poignant as 2023 marks the 50th Anniversary of the end of Australian involvement in the Vietnam War.

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More than 60,000 Australians served in Vietnam, over 3,000 were wounded and 523 gave their lives.

During a dignified and contemplative service the Master of Ceremonies, former Army Officer Mr Todd Vercoe, welcomed the large gathering of Vietnam veterans who had come to pay respects to those who did not return and to reflect on their time during the conflict.

Prayers were led by the Reverend Thomas Fairhall and Mr Denis Lane (RAN Retired).

The key address at the service was delivered by the Mayor of the Nambucca Valley, Rhonda Hoban OAM.

In a particularly moving address Mayor Hoban spoke of the sacrifices made by our service personnel and their families and highlighted the poor treatment received by many of our troops when they returned, stressing that we should never allow that sort of treatment to happen again.

As Mr Ian Flarrety played the Last Post on the bugle, Vietnam veterans stood to attention in memory of their fallen mates.

Wreaths were laid as Mr Shaun Manning played the Lament on bagpipes.

At the conclusion of the service the President of the Bowraville RSL sub-Branch, Mr Jim Cameron OAM, invited attendees into the Bowraville Ex-Services Club for refreshments.

For many, it is the only day of the year they have the opportunity to mix with fellow veterans.

Vietnam veteran Mr Brian Duncan OAM, a member of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, the first formed body of combat troops sent to Vietnam, told News Of The Area, “When I reflect on Vietnam it brings back many memories, some painful, as we lost nine guys in my company and many more wounded.

“We thought it would be a walk in the park but it was far from that.

“When I got home I was a mess for years and my life was changed completely.”

Mr Garry Mckay, President of the Macksville RSL sub Branch, is someone who has the rare distinction of being one of the few Australians who served in Vietnam and, in more recent times, deployed in uniform to Afghanistan.

“Wars, however they start, whether it is about greed, religion or politics, could be prevented if we would just talk it out and sort it out, before we go to arms and fight,” Mr McKay said.

Lest We Forget.


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