Vets re­flect on Long Tan

RSL hosts mov­ing com­mem­o­ra­tion to mark 50 years since fierce bat­tle in Viet­nam

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Elisha Pearce

THE Rooty Hill Naval As­so­ci­a­tion has been hold­ing a com­mem­o­ra­tive din­ner to mark the Bat­tle of Long Tan for many years but the 50th an­niver­sary event, last Fri­day night, was very spe­cial.

More than 250 peo­ple at­tended the event at Rooty Hill RSL to re­mem­ber the sac­ri­fice of sol­diers at one of the fiercest fights Aus­tralians have seen since World War II.

Or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee chair­man Robert Cooper, who served on HMAS Bris­bane dur­ing the Viet­nam War, said he was pleased to see more peo­ple, in­clud­ing vet­er­ans, com­mem­o­rat­ing Viet­nam sol­diers.

“It is im­por­tant – it wasn’t un­til 1987 that we even had a wel­come home pa­rade,” Mr Cooper said.

Robert Bradley, who served in the army in Viet­nam, de­liv­ered the main speech on the night, de­tail­ing the Long Tan bat­tle.

Pop­pies were laid in front of pic­tures of the 18 Aus­tralians who died dur­ing the bat­tle, while com­mem­o­ra­tive medal­lions for the 50th an­niver­sary of the bat­tle were pre­sented to those in at­ten­dance and oth­ers will be sent to the fam­i­lies of those who died.

“The 50th was a mile­stone for the peo­ple of our area,” Mr Cooper said. “Ev­ery­one en­joyed them­selves and were very pleased with the pre­sen­ta­tion on the night.”

Mr Cooper said he hoped more sub­stan­tial Viet­nam War memo­ri­als would be es­tab­lished in the com­mu­nity.

“I think af­ter the 50th an­niver­sary we will get more peo­ple com­ing along,’’ he said. “There will be more vet­er­ans get­ting in­volved … not just the Viet­nam vet­er­ans but all vet­er­ans pay­ing their respects to the fallen.”

It is im­por­tant – it wasn’t un­til 1987 that we even had a wel­come home pa­rade Robert Cooper

Rita Thomas with a photo of her beloved brother Jack Jewry, who died at Long Tan, and (in­set) Terry Ryan and Robert Cooper and the fa­mous Cross of Long Tan, which hon­ours losses on both sides of the bat­tle.

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