Vietnam Veterans Day 2013
A large contingent of Vietnam veterans turned out on Sunday for the annual Vietnam Veterans' Day commemoration service in Kingaroy's Memorial Park
Vietnam Veterans Day 2013
Keith Payne VC OAM was presented with a framed copy of a Bill Charlton poem which was penned especially for Sunday's commemoration service

August 20, 2013

The RSL movement has always been about the welfare of war veterans, even if that purpose was temporarily forgotten in the immediate aftermath of the Vietnam War. That was the message that Victoria Cross winner Keith Payne OAM gave to the assembled audience at this year’s Vietnam Veterans’ Day service in Kingaroy.

Mr Payne – who was awarded the VC for his actions in Vietnam in May 1969 and an Order of Australia Medal in 2006 for his support for youth programs and veterans’ groups – was the special guest speaker at the commemoration in Memorial Park on Sunday.

He traced the history of the RSL movement from its foundation in the aftermath of World War I through to World War II, then on to the divisive Vietnam War when many veterans found themselves isolated and alone.

Mr Payne said it took many years for Vietnam veterans to gain the same recognition from the RSL movement, the government and the community that veterans from other wars received.

In fact, it took until October 3, 1987 – 15 years after the last soldiers and national servicemen left Vietnam – for an official “Welcome Home” parade to be held.

And it took a further five years for the Federal Government to accept research that defoliants such as Agent Orange had disastrous health effects on Vietnam veterans and that post-traumatic stress disorder had caused significant health problems too.

But he said there had now been a rapprochement between the RSL movement, Vietnam veterans, the government and the community, and he hoped this dark period in Australia’s military history would help ensure that future veterans were unlikely to suffer in the same way.

Mr Payne’s speech was warmly received by an audience of about 100 veterans and family members who attended the morning service.

The Kingaroy-Memerambi Sub-Branch of the RSL presented Mr Payne with a framed copy of a poem “Keith Payne VC OAM” which was written especially for the occasion by well-known Australian war poet Bill Charlton.

Two more of Mr Charlton’s poems, “A Trilogy In Conflict” and “Long Tan” were also recited during the service by students from Kingaroy State High School and St Mary’s Catholic College.

Related articles

Vietnam Veterans Day 2013
The service opened with a march by veterans through Memorial Park to the Rotunda
Vietnam Veterands Day 2013
While guests found their seats, a Catafalque Party was formed by members of Wondai's 25/49 RQR under the watchful eye of Parade Commander RAN Petty Officer (retired) Craig Haggerty
Vietnam Veterans Day 2013
Year 12 KSHS student Leah Noll reads Bill Charlton's poem "Long Tan"
Vietnam Veterans Day 2013
Robert Robinson played the Last Post and Reveille on the bugle; he also played the Lament on didgeridoo
Vietnam Veterans Day 2013
St Mary's school captains Samantha Watson and Matthew Guteridge read Bill Charlton's poem "A Trilogy In Conflict"
Vietnam Veterans Day 2013
Member for Maranoa Bruce Scott introduced special guest Keith Payne, who had travelled from Mackay with his wife Florence for the service
Vietnam Veterans Day 2013
Keith Payne reminded the audience that the essence of Australia's RSL movement was the welfare of veterans and said it was a cause the entire community should support
Vietnam Veterans Day 2013
KSHS music teacher Susan Dowideit-Reiger sang the National Anthem
Vietnam Veterans Day 2013
Robert Robinson shows Keith Payne his didgeridoo
Vietnam Veterans Day 2013
Kingaroy RSL sub-branch president Don Davey with Keith Payne
Vietnam Veterans Day 2013
Eric Law, Warren Cockburn OAM and Barry Krosch formed part of the official party
Vietnam Veterans Day 2013
South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann, Member for Maranoa Bruce Scott, Keith Payne OAM and Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington