FIFTY years after Australia`s most decorated battle of Long Tan in Viet Nam 1966, a commemoration service was held in the Nation’s Capital.
Tea Gardens Vietnam veteran Bruce Chapman and his wife Jenni, were present for the significant occasion.
The very well attended service on a beautiful Canberra morning, was attended by many dignitaries including the Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove, the Prime Minister Mr. Malcolm Turnbull, opposition leader Mr. Bill Shorten, the USA ambassador and New Zealand parliamentarians.
A most moving ceremony with many highlights ensued.
A fly past of various aircraft of the era took place including two US B52 bombers and the helicopters whose sights and sounds became iconic of that war.
Bruce told News Of The Area, “Though not involved in the battle of Long Tan, I was able to locate an APC from my unit (A Sqn 3rd Cavalry Unit) that played a significant and important role in its outcome.”
Bruce served in that unit during 1970 -71 as a National Serviceman.
He was able to locate inside the memorial, one of the vehicles he commanded during his time in South Viet Nam.
Bruce reflected to News Of The Area that he is glad he was able to visit the battle site in 2011 as the future of future visits may now be in doubt.
There was an underlying theme expressed by the Governor General and the Prime Minister aimed at veterans of all wars but in particular, Vietnam.
Its message was that all veterans should look after their colleagues as the Australian community at large were less than supportive of them.
Indeed, many vets were so reviled on their return, that it is widely held that this non-acceptance is a prime reason for the many suicides that have affected vets in the times since that war.
Bruce remembers well much of that non-acceptance and angst.
Another highlight of the commemoration, was the Last Post ceremony.
It takes place inside the Australian War Memorial every single day at dusk.
By Rachael VAUGHAN