Gympie supports Vietnam vets
VIETNAM Veterans and their supporters marched a few days early in Mary Street on Sunday, with about 80 people also attending a special ceremony in Memorial Park.
They helped Australia commemorate one of the most fiercely fought battles of the Vietnam War.
Gympie RSL Sub-Branch president Ivan Friske said the day, known both as Long Tan Day and Vietnam Veteran’s Day, marked the sacrifices of those involved in the Battle of Long Tan.
For three hours in the late afternoon of August 18, 1966, a company of young Australians fought for their lives in rain and mud, amid the rubber trees of the Long Tan plantation in South Vietnam.
Eighteen of them died, but took 250 North Vietnamese regulars and Vietcong guerrillas with them.
It is an irony of history that the battle has become a symbol, not only of suffering and death, but of reconciliation and good will.
A cross raised at the site as a memorial was removed to a military museum after the war, but on April 15, 2002, the Vietnamese people unveiled a completely renovated Long Tan Cross Memorial on the site, recognising its importance to the many Australian veterans who now visit their nation in peace.
A fund to maintain the memorial also has provided funds for local road works to assist locals, while also improving access for visiting veterans.
Mr Friske said Gympie’s Sunday celebrations will leave veterans free to attend other commemorations tomorrow at 3pm, at Standown Park, Goomboorian, Cooloola Cove Veterans and Community Hall and in Brisbane, starting at noon.
Mayor Ron Dyne, a Vietnam veteran, attended, along with visitors from all over Australia, including some up from Brisbane.