Morning rain gave way to midday sunshine, as veterans gathered at the Launceston Cenotaph to commemorate Vietnam Veterans Day and the Battle of Long Tan.
The Battle of Long Tan took place on August 18 1966, and saw 108 Australians from D Company 6RAR resist an attack from more than 2000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops.
The day was made all the more important with commemoration of the 40-year anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia Launceston sub-branch.
There had been plans to celebrate the 40-year anniversary in May, however due to the coronavirus the event was cancelled.
Founding member, president, former patron and veteran Dick Holtsbaum said the association provided a vital mutual support space for veterans readjusting to life post-Vietnam.
“When we got back to Australia, the absolute lack of understanding from the general public … it was the politicians that started the war and we were the ones that copped everything,” Mr Holtsbaum said.
“My next-door neighbours wouldn’t talk to me because I was a Vietnam veteran, it wasn’t because I was a nasty bloke or anything.”
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Mr Holtsbaum said it was heartening to still see the association going strong 40 years on.
“When you look around on a day like today in this miserable bloody weather, the youngest bloke is 65 – we’re not spring chickens and they’re out on a day like today, it means a lot,” he said.
Nearly 60,000 Australians fought in the Vietnam War, with more than 500 dying during the conflict.
Guest speaker and Launceston Legacy senior vice-president Terry Byrne OAM said it was important to remember not only those who died during the Vietnam War, but those who continued to suffer afterwards as well as their families.
“The suicide rate for not only Vietnam veterans but some of the younger vets is a real worry,” Mr Byrne said.
Vietnam veteran Michael Butterworth suffers from PTSD.
He said the VVAA Launceston sub-branch was a crucial place of understanding for those who fought.
“I don’t worry about it [Vietnam War] now, but I went through hell because I was young, married and had a little boy,” he said.
“It changed our lives, when we came home … a lot of us weren’t allowed back to the country in uniform, we had to buy civies in South Vietnam.
“I love coming to these days, because you see some people who understand what you’re going through and they don’t put anything on you, we got a lot put on us when we came home.”
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