TAMWORTH’S Vietnam War memorial witnessed a moving service on Saturday as the city marked Vietnam Veterans Day.
August 18 was the day, 46 years ago, 108 Australian troops took on an estimated 2000 Viet Cong troops in the Battle of Long Tan.
Australia lost 18 men and 245 Viet Cong bodies were found the next day, but Australian troops estimate that possibly double that number of opposition troops were killed in the battle.
The day now marks more than the Battle of Long Tan, and is a time when all Vietnam War veterans are remembered and their service honoured.
The north west suffered dearly in the battle and the war overall, with 2nd Lieutenant Gordon Sharp of Tamworth and Max Wales from Moree both killed in the battle.
Tamworth lost seven in the war and many more veterans have died since, with all remembered by family and friends at Saturday’s service.
Guest speaker Owen Bell completed two tours of Vietnam and spoke of his time during the war.
Vietnam War veteran Cec Bayliss, who ran the service, said he would always like to see more Vietnam veterans at the memorial on the special day, but many were away this year at their units’ reunions.
He said he was pleased, though, with the attendance by the community, which included many young residents who came to pay their respects.
“On this day, I remember everybody,” he said. “Those who died and all of those who served.”
This year is a special one for Australia’s Vietnam War veterans, particularly those who fought in the Battle of Long Tan, with the original Long Tan Cross on loan from the Vietnamese government until April next year.
The cross was erected in 1969 by 6RAR members near the Long Tan rubber tree plantation. A replica of the cross now stands in its place.