The Vietnam Veterans Day Memorial Service was held at the Bundaberg’s Defence Veterans Drop-in Centre on Sunday to remember those who served.
Vietnam Veteran Association Bundaberg sub-branch president Ray Ellis said he was delighted with the turn-out from the community for an event that remembered the sacrifices made by men and women during the Vietnam War, and in conflicts before and after.
Mr Ellis, 75, served in the infantry and was at the head of combat operations during the Vietnam War and said it was a topic he held close to his heart.
“Today is a commemoration for those who died, who were wounded and for those who suffered and are still suffering,” Mr Ellis said.
Mateship recognised at Vietnam Veterans Day
Burnett Heads resident Stephen Baryla, 75, said he was in the military for 21 years and was an aircraft engine fitter, who served in the Vietnam War for nearly a year during 1971 in the 161 Recce Squadron.
“Our unit was a marvellous group of people who did a wonderful job of keeping aircraft going; It was the best working environment I have ever been in,” Mr Baryla said.
“I didn’t make 12 months because they stopped the war!”
Mr Baryla said ceremonies like Vietnam Veterans Day were important.
He said a lot had changed over the last few decades, but one thing remained the same and that was the importance of mateship.
Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey attended the memorial service and laid a wreath to honour and respect those who served in Australia's longest military engagement of the 20th century.
“It is heartwarming to see so many members of the community come out together and stand together, and certainly the words spoken today resonate past, present and future,” Mayor Dempsey said.
“Our future is in good hands with the way the community came together today; you can see the spirit of everyone here involved was so strong.”
Vietnam Veterans Association Bundaberg sub-branch patron Helen Blackburn said it was a chance for all veterans to get together and celebrate the mateship Australia is known for.
“It’s nice to be able to spend time together, because one important thing about Vietnam Veterans Day is remembering those mates we no long have,” Ms Blackburn said.
Vietnam Veterans Association Bundaberg sub-branch’s oldest living member Len Reichle, 82, served with the 17th Construction Engineers, and Phil McGauchie was in the SAS regiment. Both said they enjoyed attending the Vietnam Veterans Day Memorial Day, and said it important to be there to support each other and remember their mates.
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