Good Foreign Relations

Australia has joined forces with America in many armed conflicts worldwide, but she has also joined with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund to help build the Education Center at The Wall.

On Tuesday, Jan C. Scruggs, president and founder of VVMF, briefed Australian Ambassador Kim Beasley on the progress of exhibits in the Education Center.

Australia donated more than $3 million to the Education Center. Australian military personnel will be represented in the center as they were involved throughout the Vietnam War. During the Vietnam War, Australia sent its Army, Navy and Air Force to assist in the war effort, including nearly 42,000 Army, 13,000 Royal Australian Navy and more than 4,700 Royal Australian Air Force personnel. During the war, 521 Australian troops were killed and more than 3,000 were wounded.

There is one native-born Australian whose name is on The Wall in Washington, D.C.: John Louis Molyneaux Jr. Is on Panel 45W, Row 15. He served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps and died on Aug. 31, 1969 in Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam.

The military veterans from Australia have left items at The Wall during the last 30 years, including boomerangs and distinctive Australian military headgear. Australians are serving today in Afghanistan.

For Australia, the biggest battle during the Vietnam War was that near Long Tan on Aug. 18, 1966. The 108 soldiers of D Coy held off an enemy force of more than 2,000 for four hours during a tropical downpour. They were assisted by RAAF helicopters, close fire support from Australian artillery and the arrival of reinforcements. Armored vehicles had been delayed by a flooded creek and enemy fighters along the way. When the Viet Cong withdrew, 245 of their forces had been killed and many more wounded. Seventeen Australians were killed and 25 were wounded. One died of his wounds several days later.

The stories of these brave Australians will be represented in the Education Center along with those of the 58,282 names etched in black granite on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.