Vietnam Veterans Day observed at Narooma

Narooma marked Vietnam Veterans’ Day and the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan with a ceremony at the War Memorial at Club Narooma.

Narooma RSL sub-branch president Paul Naylor chose to speak about the influence the media coverage of the war had on people back home and then the soldiers who fought.

Barry Goodwin read a passage about the Battle of Long Tan, while Judy Harry read a poem entitled “My Mate”. Jared Ali read the “Prayer for Those Who Mourn”.

Local Vietnam veterans attending included Trevor Bennett OAM, who was among the last to fight in 1971 being injured in one of the last major battles of the war at Nui Le where he was injured and then spent five months in hospital back in Australia.

He served in the 4th RAR and his nickname over in Vietnam was “stinkfoot” as he contracted trench foot after weeks of traipsing around the sodden jungle.

Standing next to him at Friday’s service was Michel Le Bars, who was among the first Australians to see action in Vietnam in 1965, 1966 when he served with the Ist Battalion.

Other Vietnam veterans present included Andrew Edwards who served in the Royal Australian Navy and went over to fight several times between 1965 and 1972.

Dennis Smith is a regular at the Narooma Vietnam Veterans service, representing and wearing the medals of his father Colin Smith, who served in the 5th Battalion in 1969.

Gary Calvow served in Vietnam in 1970 and 1971 with the Royal Australian Navy on board the HMAS Sydney and was also seconded to service with the Americans on board the USS Robison, stationed just off the demilitarised zone.

Nik Nightingale meanwhile served with the 3rd Battalion over in Vietnam in 1968.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan encouraged Australians to pause and reflect on the service and sacrifice of the men and women who served in the Vietnam War, 

Mr Tehan attended the Vietnam Veterans’ Day Remembrance Service at the National Australian Vietnam Forces Memorial in Canberra with the Governor General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd).

“Today we remember nearly 60,000 Australian men and women who served in the Vietnam War between 1962 and 1975, including 521 who lost their lives and more than 3,000 who were wounded,” Mr Tehan said.

“We also mark the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, where 105 Australians and three New Zealanders of D Company 6RAR were engaged in one of the fiercest battles of the Vietnam War.

“In the Battle of Long Tan a total of 17 Australians were killed in action and 25 were wounded, one of whom later died of his wounds.

“D Company were greatly assisted by an ammunition resupply by RAAF helicopters, support by Australian, New Zealand and United States artillery and the arrival of reinforcements in APCs as night fell.

“On Vietnam Veterans’ Day we honour the Australians who served in Vietnam. Today is an opportunity to reflect on that period of our history and to say ‘thank-you’ to our veterans for their service.”

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