Australia will welcome home 33 Australian service personnel and dependents on 2 June in one of the largest single military repatriations in the country’s history.
Twenty-one Vietnam veterans, three servicemen and eight dependents who had been interred at Terendak Military Cemetery in Malaysia as well as one other casualty of the Vietnam War interred at the Kranji Military Cemetery in Singapore, will arrive home on Thursday.
A military repatriation ceremony followed by a private memorial service will be held at RAAF Richmond in Sydney after two Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft bearing the Australians land at about 10:30am.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said bringing the Australians home was an important moment for the families and for the country.
“The return of these Australians will bring closure to their families who have grieved for lost loved ones,” Mr Tehan said.
“For every Australian this will also be an opportunity to acknowledge the sacrifice of all those who have died in service to their country.
“Representatives of our Vietnam-veteran community will attend and, for some, this will be a particularly moving occasion as they served with the returning servicemen.”
Mr Tehan said the Australian government last year made an offer of repatriation to 36 families of Australians buried and Terendak and Kranji.
“Several families made the decision not to bring their loved ones home, and I am sure Australians will respect that decision and appreciate it was not made lightly,” he said.
At the conclusion of the private memorial service for the families, 33 hearses bearing the returning Australians will depart RAAF Base Richmond in a funeral procession at about 12.15pm and travel to the centre of Parramatta, arriving about 1pm.
The funeral procession will proceed via a green-light corridor and under escort of the NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, with assistance from the Transport Management Centre.
Mr Tehan encouraged members of the public wanting to pay their respects to line the route of the procession.
It will travel from RAAF Richmond to Parramatta CBD via Church Street – George Street – Smith Street – Station Street – Parkes Street.
Motorists in the area should expect delays.
Reinterment services will take place in every State and Territory, except Tasmania, over the following few weeks, in accordance with the families’ wishes.
FILE PHOTO CAPTION: Onlookers pay respects as two caskets are carried to waiting hearses during the repatriation of Flying Officer Michael Herbert and Pilot Officer Robert Carver, who failed to return from a routine bombing mission in Vietnam on 3 November 1970. Their remains were recovered in thick jungle in an rugged, remote and sparsely populated area of Quang Nam Province, Vietnam, near the Laotian border, and repatriated to Australia in 2009. Photo by Leading Aircraftwoman Amanda Campbell.