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August 18: Vietnam Veterans Day recognises and remembers all who served

SERVICE: Parkes RSL Sub Branch Vice President Robert Brooke presided over last year's service on Vietnam Veterans Day on August 18. Photo: Jenny Kingham
SERVICE: Parkes RSL Sub Branch Vice President Robert Brooke presided over last year's service on Vietnam Veterans Day on August 18. Photo: Jenny Kingham

This year is the 54th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, which Parkes RSL Sub-Branch secretary Paul Thomas said should be commemorated by all.

The action was indeed a monumental battle in which our soldiers exhibited extreme bravery in the face of a numerically superior and well-trained enemy force.

The Battle of Long Tan saw Delta company 6RAR receive the United States Presidential Unit citation.

Notwithstanding these facts, we should also remember all who served in the Vietnam War regardless of the tasks which they were allocated to perform.

We remember our infantry, armour, artillery, field squadron engineers, signallers and their support services who in the Battles of Coral, Balmoral and the Ho Bo Woods, Long Hai's, Binh Bah, Baria and in numerous other battles and contacts of this protracted war.

Tuesday, August 18 is set aside as Vietnam Veterans Day, a day that commemorates the service of all Vietnam veterans.

It also celebrates the spirit of mateship and mutual assistance that characterises the self-help attitude we now share.

"This is the day that we Vietnam veterans remember and commemorate our dead," Mr Thomas said.

Australian casualties in Vietnam included 508 fatalities.

"We must never forget the price our Vietnam veterans paid for service, especially this year, in which we mark the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan," Mr Thomas said.

"Of course, those difficulties did not end with the fighting. For our Vietnam veterans, life after the war could never be the same.

"Thousands of our servicemen have developed long-term health problems associated with what they were exposed to in Vietnam."

Tragically, they are over-represented in statistics on respiratory disorders, cancer, depression and suicide.

"Community attitudes at the time of their return home meant our veterans were denied the recognition they rightfully deserved," Mr Thomas said.

"After all, they had put their lives on the line for our country.

"Thankfully, over the past 30 or so years, community opinions have changed."

Mr Thomas said Australia has become a more enlightened place.

The courage and selfless service of our personnel who served in Vietnam is now recognised on this day each year.

Instead of being shunned, veterans are finally getting recognition they deserve.

"We come here today not to glorify war but to acknowledge the sacrifices and remember the dead," Mr Thomas said.

This year's Vietnam Veterans Day commemoration will be held at the Vietnam War Memorial at Memorial Hill at 10.50am on August 18.

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