Vietnam Veterans Day in northern Australia

Commemorative ceremonies were held in Townsville and Darwin to mark Vietnam Veterans Day.

14 September 2020

Townsville 

By Michelle Higgins, DVA’s Client Service Manager – Townsville

Vietnam veterans and their families came together at Riverway Townsville on 18 August to commemorate the fallen and acknowledge the service of the men and women who served in Vietnam.  

COVID restrictions meant that the service needed to be changed from its usual format. However, that didn’t stop the service from being full of heart. Peter Hindle (Queensland President of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia) and his team co-ordinated a memorable service enhanced by the beautiful playing of the Last Post by Musician Helen Baker from the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) band. 

Thank you for your service. Lest We Forget.

People gathered round cenotaph

The Vietnam Veterans Day Ceremony in Townsville. Photo: Troy Rodgers.

Darwin

By Bob Shewring, President, Veterans Australia NT

This Vietnam Veterans Day was very different for us in the Northern Territory. Normally the service would be held at the Darwin Cenotaph but it was undergoing repairs. So we held the ceremony at Reg Hillier House, the headquarters of Veterans Australia NT, some 35 kilometres south of Darwin.

As part of the ceremony, we dedicated a replica of the original Long Tan Cross to commemorate the 60,000 who fought and in particular those killed at the Battle of Long Tan, but more generally the 521 lives lost during the war and all those who suffered during and after.

The dedication was conducted by Chaplain of 5RAR, Jui-Hsiang Su with a lone Piper playing a lament called ‘Coming Home’ – the same one that was played when Corporal Reg Hillier (Mentioned In Despatches) along with another 21 Vietnam Veterans were returned home after being buried outside of Australia for more than 50 years.

The replica Long Tan Cross was dedicated in honour of Corporal Hillier, the only Northern Territory soldier killed in the Vietnam War, and Sergeant Frank Alcorta OAM MG, who is a Founding and Life Member of the Vietnam Veterans Association of the NT and who fought in the Battle of Long Tan.

The guest speaker Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Dirago spoke about the Battle of Long Tan and subsequent military operations.

The Ode was recited by Mr Bob Wood OAM, Vietnam Veteran. After the bugler had sounded Rouse and the flags were raised, Chaplain Chris Hanson of the US Navy concluded the service with the Benediction. The service closed with me stating our motto (‘Honour the dead, but fight like hell for the living’) and reinforcing our commitment to all Veterans and their families. 

Men march holding a banner saying Vietnam Veterans Association NT

The Vietnam Veterans Day ceremony near Darwin. Photo: Veterans Australia NT

Catafalque  party around concrete cross with guests gathered under marquee

Veterans Australia NT President Bob Shrewring speaks at the ceremony, with the Long Tan Cross replica to his right. Photo: Veterans Australia NT