ANNIVERSARY A TIME TO REMEMBER FEARLESS EFFORTS
FORMER Englishman Jack Jewry, who lived in St Marys, died an Australian hero in the Battle of Long Tan in 1966.
His sister, Rita Thomas, said this year’s 50th anniversary commemoration was important because the wider community was becoming more aware of the sacrifice Australian soldiers, such as her brother, made during the Vietnam War.
“It’s good they are not forgotten,” Mrs Thomas, who still lives in St Marys, said.
“He did make a sacrifice. He was a soldier and proud to go — he said that in one of his letters.”
Mr Jewry was a lance corporal in the 6th Battalion’s D Company.
Cranebrook resident Terry Ryan was a private in another platoon at Long Tan.
Mr Ryan, 69, was wounded in the arm by a bullet.
“I don’t recall it happening to me but when it was pointed out to me it became very painful,” he said with a laugh, only now possible when looking back over decades.
“I was shot in the arm with a bullet that was just about spent.
“It had gone through a rubber tree and become implanted in my arm.”
It was the quick actions of his platoon commander, Second Lieutenant David Sabben, that got the bullet out of Mr Ryan’s arm and allowed him to contribute to the fight at hand.
“We were fighting for survival,” Mr Ryan said. “About that time we regrouped into a small hollow in the ground that protected us a little from small arms fire.
“Those that were able surrounded us to protect us.
“And those that could loaded magazines of ammunition.
“At that stage the Viet Cong were climbing over bodies to get to us.”
Mrs Thomas regularly remembers Mr Jewry’s sacrifice and what he was like as a brother.
“He was a young, happy boy full of life,” she said.
“He was in love ... I think he was married six or eight weeks before he went to Vietnam.”
Mr Jewry attended St Marys High School and was a Western Districts swimming champion before he started work as a clerk in the construction industry.
Mrs Thomas remembers her brother’s personality in the letters he wrote home to his family.
She said she always thought about her brother’s sacrifice but said the 50th anniversary tomorrow would be a special occasion.
“It will be a good day for remembering,” she said.
“He will definitely be on our minds.”