(The LOCAL News Editor apologises for this Story not making last issue)
On Sunday, August 18th local community members, young and old, gathered to watch the Bribie Island sub-branch of the Vietnam Veterans Association - Australia (VVAA) march from the Bongaree Bowls Club to The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park for the memorial service.
Parade Commander Jeff Korn led the Vietnam Veterans. The TS Koopa Drum Corp set the pace for the march in front of the veterans, leading the parade. Towards the back of the parade the TS Koopa Cadets and the Maritime Safety Military Cadets marched.
Former VVAA President Paul Cooke served as Master of Ceremonies for the service commemorating the 53rd anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan as well as the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Binh Ba.
The Battle of Long Tan fought on August 18th 1966 saw 18 Australian soldiers dead and 24 wounded. On the third anniversary of the battle, veterans travelled to Long Tan and a cross was raised on the site to commemorate the fallen—a replica of this cross can be found in The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park, Bribie Island.
Originally known as Long Tan Day, to commemorate the men of D company, 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR), August 18th is now the commemorative day for all Vietnam Veterans.
The Battle of Binh Ba took place in June 1969 and is considered one of the most significant actions that Australian soldiers fought in during the Vietnam War.
Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Raymond John Godfrey Royal Australian Navy (RAN) MID UCG Retired, was the guest speaker for this year’s memorial service. He served in the less well known Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam (RANHFV) which was integrated with the US Army 135th Assault Helicopter Company (AHC).
Other speakers during the service included VVAA Bribie Island sub-branch President Rod Devenish-Meares, Reverend Colin Baxter Royal Australian Naval Reserve (RANR) Retired, Patron of VVAA Bribie Island Joy Leishman, Reverend Pierre Van Vlommestein, Ernie Hall, Doug Marsen and Phil Reeves.
Federal Member for Longman Terry Young MP, Member for Pumicestone Simone Wilson MP and Moreton Bay Councillor for Division 1 Brooke Savige attended the memorial service and took part in the laying of the wreaths along with representatives from many other local groups. As the wreaths were laid bagpipes were played by local boy Lachlan Scott.
A special thanks was made during the service to Superior Traffic Management who volunteered at the last minute to help out when the original traffic control the VVAA had organised fell through, without their voluntary efforts the march to the service would not have been possible.
It was announced during the memorial service that Reverend Colin Baxter would be retiring from his role as padre, Master of Ceremonies Paul Cooke clarified after the ceremony that the Reverend is not retiring from the VVAA but from the RSL.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park is maintained by the VVAA, and in commemoration for this year’s memorial service a Kiowa Helicopter was erected on Wednesday, August 14th.