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Emotions run high at remembrance service

Wednesday, 19th August, 2009

It might not hold the same high profile as ANZAC Day but emotions still ran high when Vietnam Veterans were remembered yesterday.

More than 100 people, including Vietnam Veterans, their families and onlookers, gathered at the War Memorial Reserve in the city to pay tribute to those who served, suffered and died through the Vietnam War.

President of the Vietnam Veterans Club of Broken Hill Peter Vickers said it was good to see the public honour those who fought and were lost. "It was a very good turnout. There are members here that you see every day, every year but a lot of Adelaide and Melbourne people here also," Mr Vickers said. "One of the greatest things to come out of that war was the friendship, the mateship, the trust you had on each other. "Even to this day when we get together and there's still that trust." Around 60 locals fought in the Vietnam War, the longest running war in modern history, which stretched from 1959 to 1975. The war was fought in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos with 50,000 Australians serving. More than 2,400 Australian servicemen were injured and 500 Australians were killed. This year marked the 34th anniversary of the end of the war and the 43rd anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan. Mr Vickers paid tribute to the wives and families in what is still to this day a very emotional issue.

"Emotions still stay with you and there's still a fair way to go," he said. "The profile is not as high but it's still very important. "The wives and families, the support they gave us, they kept the home fires buring during the war and also since then often in very worrying circumstances. "Many of the wives are now carers for us." Guest speaker John Curtis spoke of the backlash felt by the returning soldiers after unfair media reports on what was an extremely unpopular war. "Our men and women deserve a great deal of gratitude," he said, adding they were just doing the job they were told to by the government. Peter Keenan played The Last Post and Reveille before Fred Peter played the Lament. The North School Choir sang the national anthem before Vietnam Veterans, their families, police and students from the North School laid wreaths below the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall. Vets commemorated the occasion at a dinner last night. Meanwhile the bodies of the final two Australian servicemen lost in the Vietnam War will be laid to rest next month. The funerals for flight officer Michael Herbert and pilot officer Robert Carver will be held in Adelaide and Toowoomba respectively.

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