Nelson Bay, Medowie RSL sub-branches prepare for August 18 Vietnam Veteran’s Day services

Nelson Bay and Medowie RSL sub-branches will hold services on August 18 to mark Vietnam Veterans Day.

Ex-servicemen, their families and the public are invited to attend the services.

Medowie’s service will be held in Lions Park on the corner of Medowie and Ferodale roads starting 10.30am.

Air Force cadets will form the catafalque party and RAAF chaplain David Deal will deliver the prayers.

Medowie sub-branch president Ian Harding said he was happy with last year’s turn out of up to 60 veterans and hoped for similar numbers this year.

All are welcome to join the sub-branch at the Bull N Bush Hotel after the service.

The Nelson Bay service will be held at Apex Park war memorial from 11am.

Afterwards, a light lunch will be offered at Wests Nelson Bay Diggers.

Sub-branch secretary Russell Durrant said he was hopeful that, being on a Saturday, veterans’ families could attend.

Vietnam veteran Steve Carroll, from Fern Bay. Mr Carroll, who served 20 years in the Royal Australian Engineers, did two tours to Vietnam. He also served in Malaya, Borneo, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Vietnam veteran Steve Carroll, from Fern Bay. Mr Carroll, who served 20 years in the Royal Australian Engineers, did two tours to Vietnam. He also served in Malaya, Borneo, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

From the 2017 Vietnam Veterans Day services:

The service and sacrifice of the men and women who served during the Vietnam War was remembered on Friday.

Around the nation citizens paused for Vietnam Veteran's Day and to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.

In Port Stephens, services were held in Medowie, Nelson Bay and Tea Gardens.

The Medowie service drew about 50 people, including veterans, school children, members of auxiliary sub-branches and politicians.

Brian Broughton, vice president of the East Maitland RSL Sub-Branch, guest spoke at the Medowie service on Friday morning.

He talked about what Vietnam Veteran's Day symbolised, and cautioned politicians about the current threat of war in Korea.

"Today we gather to honour those who never did come home and others who since have joined them," Mr Broughton, from Medowie, said.

"Today is a time we recall that phase of our past which saw what seemed to be endless war in a place called Vietnam. Today is a time to embrace old comrades and enjoy indescribable mateship which was born in times of war.

"Today, with the threat of war on the Korean Penninsular, it is a time to remind all politicians of the futility of war and that it should only be the last desperate resort of any nation."

Air Force Cadets from 335 Squadron, based at RAAF Base Williamtown, formed the catafalque party. Flight Lieutenant Mark Reid led the service prayers.

At the end of the service, following the Last Post, reveille and National Anthem, Paterson MP Meryl Swanson presented Medowie RSL Sub-Branch president Ian Harding a seedling.

The seedling is descendant from the solitary pine tree left on what has become known as Lone Pine Ridge in Gallipoli, following a major World War I battle in 1915.

Students from Wirreanda and Medowie public schools, plus Medowie Christian School laid wreaths during the service, as did councillors Steve Tucker, Geoff Dingle and Chris Doohan.

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Dan Tehan, encouraged Australians to take a moment on Friday to reflect about the men and women who served during the Vietnam War.

“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.”

In Nelson Bay about 40 people gathered to pay their respects.

Nelson Bay RSL Sub Branch only last year held its own dedicated Vietnam Veterans Day service for the first time.

It had previously chosen to support the Newcastle service but again opted to host its in 2017.

Secretary Russell Durrant said it was important to remember the sacrifice of those who served.

“We had a good turnout,” he said. “There’s a few Vietnam veterans here today who I haven’t seen here previously and that’s good.”

Mr Durrant said the emotional scars were still raw for many.

“A lot of blokes, they snuck them off planes in the middle of the night and they never got the recognition they deserved,” he said. “That’s all gone and the country is embracing us now. We hope that it continues for those men and women who are serving in the Middle East now.

“We hope they don’t have to go through any of that.”