Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

2023 marks 61 years since the arrival of the Australian Army Training team in South Vietnam, as was requested by the South Vietnam government, on the 3 August 1962 and 50 years since the end of Australian involvement in the conflict in 1973.

To commemorate these significant events, the Vietnam Veteran’s Vigil has organised a series of community-oriented events that focus on remembering individual loss. These events are also intended for those Vietnam veterans and families who are too frail to attend the National ceremony in Canberra later this month but may be able to visit their local cemetery, and by doing so, play an active part in this significant year of remembrance. The VVV Association planed to hold a Service of Remembrance at every grave or commemorative plaque site across the nation and overseas yesterday.

At 11.00am local time, a nationwide Vietnam Veteran’s Vigil was held to provide surviving Vietnam Veterans and the Australian people the opportunity to participate in a meaningful way in recognising the individual loss and to pay their respects to the 523 Australians who were killed in action and to show solidarity with their loved ones for their loss. The vigil is a reunion of those who returned with those who did not. It is the aim of the VVV to have a returned Serviceman stand vigil over each grave of each serviceman who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Members of the Uralla RSL Sub-branch, joined by two Vietnam Veteran’s Vigil Association representatives, held a graveside vigil to remember the service of two local servicemen.

Lance-Corporal Ross McMillan: born and raised in Uralla, served in Vietnam with the 7th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, from 8th April 1967 until 2nd February 1968. Lance-Corporal McMillan was killed after he had set up a claymore mine outside the patrol perimeter. The soldiers on gun piquet changed over while he was out, and information was not correctly passed on. Cpl McMillan was coming back into position, crouched low in the grass, and all the machine gunner could see was a forehead and dark hair approaching. David Croft, who served alongside Cpl McMillan, stood vigil for his fellow serviceman.

Private Trevor Attwood: born and raised in Uralla, National Serviceman and Rifleman in the 3rd Section D&E Platoon. Killed in action in the Phuoc Tuy-Long Khanh province. He was riding in an Armoured Personnel Carrier that was ambushed, a box of Claymore mines that was stored on the APC was ignited by a rocket grenade and exploded. Private Attwood died 30 days before he was due to return home. Neil Howard, master to his electrical apprentice, stood vigil over his good friend.

President of the Uralla RSL Sub-branch, Mr Russell French said commemoration is one of the most important roles of the RSL.

“It is especially important for the small towns and communities to be able to remember their lost members, many of whom were born here, went to school here and worked here.”

“In small towns like Uralla, many of the locals grew up together, and they want to remember their mates”.

The VVV has encouraged attendees to photograph the graves of these Servicemen to collate a public record and provide an enduring legacy of Remembrance for all Australians both now, and into the future, to reflect upon.

A larger, national commemorative service will be held on August 18th. This day is of particular significance to Vietnam veterans, as it remembers the Battle of Long-Tan, one of the worst days of the Vietnam conflict.

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