August 19, 2012
Vietnam veterans, their friends and families, and other former service personnel gathered in Kingaroy and Nanango on Saturday to mark Vietnam Veterans’ Day.
Vietnam Veterans’ Day is always held on August 18, the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan in which 18 soldiers were killed in 1966.
This year’s commemoration was particularly significant as it also marked the 50th anniversary of the deployment of the Australian Army Training Team, the first Australian troops into Vietnam.
In Kingaroy, veterans gathered in Memorial Park on Saturday morning for a ceremony which also recognised the contribution indigenous soldiers have made to the defence of Australia.
Mr Barry Krosch opened proceedings with a formal acknowledgement of the traditional owners of the land, the Wakka Wakka people, because Aboriginal people had fought bravely in many conflicts on behalf of Australia.
Keeping with the theme, the Lament was played on a didgeridoo by Mr Bob Robinson, from Ellesmere, an indigenous man who served in the Royal Australian Navy.
Malaya and Korean War veteran George Woods, from the Salvation Army, led the assembly in prayer.
Mr Barry Haydon, one of the key organisers of the event and another former RAN man, then read the poem “Long Tan” written by Bill Charlton and published in his poetry collection “A Rugged Bunch Of Diggers”.
Guest speaker South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann spoke of his experiences of being at school during the Vietnam War, of seeing the “birth dates” from the National Service ballot being published on the front page of the Courier-Mail newspaper and his teacher’s reaction when he chose the Ronnie Burns’ anti-war song “Smiley” as the topic of a class discussion.
He said he admired the courage of the men who had served in Vietnam.
“I look up to all of you,” he said.
Cr Kratzmann said he had recently learned there were five Murgon residents currently serving in Afghanistan. He promised to find out how many there were from other parts of the South Burnett, too, so they could receive an official letter from the Mayor thanking them for their service.
Wreathes were laid on the Vietnam Veterans and National Servicemen’s Memorial before Bob Robinson swapped his didgeridoo for a bugle to play the Last Post and Reveille. The Senior Citizens Singers then sang the National Anthem.