Anzac Day: Remembering Australian and New Zealand allies who sacrificed

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.”

The Vietnam War was the longest twentieth century conflict in which Australians participated. Their involvement spanned from 1962, with a limited number of military advisors, until 1975 carrying out evacuations and assisting refugeesIn 1964, in the face of little support from traditional Western allies, the State Department under President Lyndon Johnson led a “More Flags” campaign in an attempt to rally international support for the cause of saving South Vietnam. Australia sent combat troops into South Vietnam in 1965. Approximately 60,000 military personnel fought alongside Americans during Vietnam. Other nations that lent the greatest support include: South Korea, Thailand, New Zealand and the Philippines.

 

ANZAC

The faces of the Australians who lost their lives in the Vietnam War are displayed on VVMF’s Australian Wall of Faces.

 

During the Vietnam War, Australia sent its Army, Navy and Air Force to assist in the war effort, including nearly 42,000 Army, just under 13,000 Royal Australian Navy (RAN), and more than 4,700 Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) personnel.

521 Australian service members would lose their lives. Their photos are remembered on VVMF’s Australia’s Wall of Faces. More than 3,000 were wounded.

U.S. Vietnam veterans recall serving alongside Australians during the war and a few shared their strongest memories from that time. Don LeBlanc, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from January 1970 to February 1971, was stationed near them.

“I was an aircraft mechanic stationed a few miles outside of DaNang,” he said. “The Australians only lived in our Marine compound and not for the whole year I was there. At 5’7″, I had to literally look up to every one of them. All over 6ft and friendly,” he remembered. Don would later choose to have R&R in Australia because his experience with these service members was so positive.

Kevin Ridley, who served in the U.S. Air Force from January 1971 to January 1972, recalled having Australian pilots fly alongside him in Phu Bai while he was with the 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron.

“I loaded weapons on the aircraft. Mainly 2.75 rockets,” he recalled. “We had their backs and they had ours. [I am] proud to have served with them.”

Raymond Dennis, who served from March 1967 to 1968, remembersd them introducing him to genuine ginger beer in Vung Tau. “They were a rough and tumble group! I envied them that they could wear a uniform with shorts in that oppressive climate while I had to wear bloused fatigues,” he said.

ekn_67_0130_vn-helicoptersx3

One of the most famous images of the Vietnam War was captured by Michael Coleridge on 26 August 1967. The image which has been etched on the rear wall of the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial on Anzac Parade in Canberra, shows members of 5 Platoon, B Company, 7RAR waiting to be airlifted by US Army helicopters from an area just north of Phuoc Hai.

Australians have fought beside U.S. service members in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Sinai, the Persian Gulf, Kuwait, Somalia, East Timor, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq.

2019 marked 100 years of mateship between Australia and the United States. A special commemoration took place at The Wall on January 23 where VVMF President and CEO, Jim Knotts presented two pieces of original Wall granite as a token of appreciation to the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial Museum in Victoria and the government of Australia.

The alliance between Australia and the United States is stronger than ever and extremely important to everyone who has worn the uniform and served alongside them. We thank them for their service and sacrifice.

 

For more information about Australians who served, visit:

National Vietnam Veterans Museum

Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Center for the Study of Armed Conflict

Advertisements