GRAVESITE commemorations at Dromana and Crib Point cemeteries, Sunday 21 February, will honour two Mornington Peninsula servicemen who died 50 years ago at the Battle of Long Tan, during the Vietnam War.
They are among a series of simultaneous vigils across the state at the gravesites of Vietnam veterans.
The Dromana ceremony will honour fallen veteran Mick Poole, and Crib Point’s will honour Colin Whiston.
Mornington Peninsula Vietnam Veterans’ Association treasurer Robin Date said Mr Poole’s extended family and Mr Whiston’s sister Michelle and her family would attend the services.
The two are the only Vietnam veterans buried on the Mornington Peninsula.
Up to 30 veterans will attend each service: two in full dress uniform, complete with medals, and a bugler will sound The Last Post and Reveille.
Speakers will be veterans Dave Mathers at Crib Point and Kevin Mawdsley at Dromana.
Almost 60,000 Australian soldiers, including 10,500 Victorians, served in the Vietnam War and 521 Australians died. Of these, 98 veterans are buried in Victoria.
The Mornington Peninsula branch of the Vietnam Veterans Association is at Rosebud RSL, 117 Eastbourne Rd, Rosebud.
The state government has committed $1 million over two years to support the Veterans’ Victorian branch in developing a program of commemorative and educational events for this year’s 50th anniversary of Australia’s involvement in the war.
The grave site vigils aim to encourage people to “better understand and reflect” on the Vietnam War, which is Australia’s longest military engagement of the 20th century.
Other initiatives include a Vietnam War history competition for students, and a $250,000 upgrade of the National Vietnam Veterans Museum at Phillip Island.
“Our Vietnam veterans deserve the greatest respect, and we’re working hard to ensure all Victorians have the chance to pay tribute to their sacrifice,” Acting Minister for Veterans Philip Dalidakis said.
VVAA Victorian branch president Bob Elworthy said: “This is an important time to remember the hardships, difficulties and trauma of the Vietnam War but also to honour those who fought and lived with determination, resilience, mateship and valour.
“The vigils will honour those who did not survive, but the many other commemorative programs will pay testament to those who have gone on to live strong and honourable lives with friends, families and fellow servicemen and women.”