By Barry Irving and John Wilson*
AUSTRALIA responded to a request from South Vietnam and the United States for support in 1962 by sending 30 military advisors.
By 1965 it was clear that more support was needed. As the US increased its troops in Vietnam, Australia sent a battalion of soldiers that increased to a task force in 1966.
The Australian men and women who served in Vietnam made many sacrifices. More than 60,000 served in the war, with 523 being killed and 3000 soldiers wounded. There were more than 15,000 national servicemen that eventually went to Vietnam, with 200 being killed and more than 1200 wounded.
Like their regular Army colleagues many national servicemen came home with psychological scars.
Compulsory registration for National Service fuelled opposition to the war. The anti-Vietnam war protest movement gathered strength in 1969 and reached its peak during 1970-1971.
This year has seen many significant anniversaries of the Vietnam War era.
It marks 60 years since the arrival of the Australian Army training team in Vietnam on 3 August 1962.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia’s involvement in the war.
Friday 18 August marked the 57th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan in which 18 Australians were killed.
Saturday 13 May marked the 55th anniversary of the Battle of Coral/Balmoral, where 26 Australians were killed and almost 100 were wounded.
On 3 August, a service of remembrance was held at every grave and Commemorative plaque site in Australia and overseas.
The first service was at dawn at the AVV Wall in Canberra, the other services were held at 11am with the last service at dusk in Scotland where L/CPL Robert Buchan is interred with his parents.
We recall the pain, grief and sadness felt by families, friends and loved ones of those 523 young men who gave their all.
We also recall their sacrifice in the same spirit as those Anzac greats whose sacrifice we remember every 25 April.
*Barry Irving OAM is a regular contributor and John Wilson is president of Rye RSL.