Planning is underway for a range of significant events around the country next year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.
FILE PHOTO (AWM CUN/66/0939/VN)(28 Nov 1966): One of thousands of photos taken by Billy Cunneen in Vietnam – a 6RAR soldier dives off a log crossing a small creek as firing breaks out just ahead, during Operation Ingham.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Andrew Gee said the government had committed $6 million to ensure the important milestone was marked with appropriate respect and appreciation for all those who served and those who gave their lives in Vietnam.
“Australia owes our Vietnam veterans an enormous debt of gratitude,” Minister Gee said.
“Almost 60,000 Australians served in the Vietnam War, 521 lost their lives and more than 3000 were wounded.
“We honour and remember the service and sacrifice of each and every one of them.
“At places like Long Tan, Nui Lei, Binh Ba, Coral and Balmoral, Ap My An and many others, Australians served with distinction, in the finest traditions of our armed forces.
“Our country should be very proud of all they achieved.
“Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam conflict will be an important opportunity for Australians to express the pride, gratitude and respect of the nation.
“The Vietnam War and its aftermath exacted a heavy toll on all those who served and their families.
“The treatment of our diggers upon their return home by some of their fellow Australians remains a source of hurt and pain for many.
“The 50-year commemoration in 2023 is another important step in helping to heal the wounds that were inflicted in Australia.
“I will be working closely with the Vietnam veteran community to ensure the funding announced delivers a program of events that honours all Australians who served in the Vietnam conflict.
“The centrepiece will be a national commemorative service at the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial on Anzac Parade in Canberra.
“We owe the men and women who served in Vietnam nothing less than a commemorative program that reflects their extraordinary service and sacrifice.
“Our country will always be grateful for it and we will never, ever, forget it,” Minister Gee said.
Further announcements on the details of specific commemorations and the consultation process will be made on the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website in due course.