Innisfail community honours fallen soldiers on Vietnam Veterans’ Day

Vietnam Veterans and National Servicemen stand at ease during the commemoration service in Innisfail.

THE 59th anniversary of Australia’s Commitment to South Vietnam from 1962 – 1975 was remembered in Innisfail on Wednesday. 

An intimate group gathered for a special Vietnam Veterans’ Day commemoration service at the Innisfail RSL cenotaph and paused to honour those who had made the supreme sacrifice.

The Battle of Long Tan was fought between the Australian Army and Viet Cong forces in a rubber plantation near the village of Long Tan in South Vietnam on August 18, 1966.

This battle continued for over three hours, in torrential rain, amid the mud and shattered rubber trees.

A total of 108 warriors from D Company (6RAR), who were outnumbered 20-1 and up against 2,500 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese enemy troops, triumphed with honour, decency, and courage.

Parade Marshal Di Mecking brought the parade to ease and attention, while the Last Post was played, a minute’s silence was held, the reading of The Ode, followed by the Reveille.

BJ Price said a special dedication prayer before the piper Marc Darveniza played the lament for the wreath laying ceremony.

Wreaths were laid on behalf of HMAS Cairns, Bob Davis for RAR 1- 9, CCRC Mayor Mark Nolan, Sergeant Bill Dray on behalf of 51 FNQR and all armed services, John Hunt for 2 RAR, Ken Myers for 3 RAR, Mark Millivojevic in memory of Senior Sergeant George Millivojevic 4 RAR, and Douglas McQuiggan and Eddie Egyed on behalf of Peter ‘Prince’ Beaven 6 RAR, and the former RSL President Reg ‘Hammer’ Hamann 7 RAR.

Craig Strutt laid a wreath on behalf of Innisfail RSL, David Grima for all National Servicemen, Di Mecking for 51 RAR Torres Strait Islands Regiment, and Cr Jeff Baines for Sergeant ‘Chicca’ Baines, the fallen and Special Air Service.

FLTLT AAFC Ron Henderson on behalf of the RAAF, as well as individuals and other members of community groups also laid wreaths.

Flags were raised to full mast and the service concluded with the playing of the Australian National Anthem.

The Battle of Long Tan is now remembered as an exemplar of Australian soldiers channelling the same attributes of bravery, teamwork, and endurance their forebears displayed in earlier conflicts. A total of 18 Australians were killed in action and twenty-four were wounded, that number exceeded any other single day loss in the Vietnam War.

By the time the Vietnam War had ended, close to 60,000 Australians served during a decade of conflict between 1962 and 1972, where tragically 521 lives were lost and 3,000 wounded.

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