Honouring our Vietnam veterans

Anniversary. Friday August 18 will mark an important day in Australia’s history, Vietnam Veterans’ Day.

The Circular Head RSL WWI Centenary Committee invites community members to a service at Anzac Park at 11am, with wreath laying welcome, to commemorate those who served and died in the Vietnam War.

Attending the Smithton service as guest speaker is Patricia Thompson, better known as ’60s Australian pop singer Little Pattie, who as a 17-year-old performed for troops in Vietnam.

The long awaited Vietnam War Memorial will be unveiled, complementing the existing World War One memorial at Anzac Park.

Earlier in the year, Federal Member for Braddon Justine Keay announced $3636 in funding towards the installation of the memorial, approved under the Community Commemorative Grants category of the Saluting Their Service Commemorations Program.

The committee will also plant a tree in memory of Geoffrey John Coombs, who was killed on March 22, 1968 when he walked into an enemy landmine. He was one of 44 Circular Head men and 60,000 Australians who enlisted in the Vietnam War. Three thousand men were wounded and 521 died.

Committee president Rod Wells said the day provided an opportunity to honour those who had served.

“Geoff and I started our football together up at Trowutta as about 15-year-olds, later he went off to the army and he was killed in Vietnam.

“I would have been there myself, only I was home on leave and had cut the end of my thumb off.

“The battalion section I was in, I lost two (mates) in that as well, that’s what I think about first up.”

Mr Wells said it is sure to be a special occasion, with veterans attending from as far as Queensland, some returning to Circular Head for the first time since enlisting for the war.

“The vets who were here last year, they seemed to get a fair bit out of it, they’re pretty chuffed with the fact that they’re being recognised.

“Hopefully we’ll get a few locals about, the schools are being involved.

“I encourage anyone who can make it, to come up to the cenotaph on the day and back down to the RSL after.”

Following the service, a luncheon will be held at the Circular Head RSL where Little Pattie will also speak.

A Vietnam Veterans display will be open for locals to peruse for a week following Vietnam Veterans’ Day.

For confidential support, Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service can be reached 24 hours a day on 1800 011 046.

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