Fifty years since Australian forces landed in Vietnam the scars are starting to heal for veterans.
“The fact many of these troops were spat at and splashed in red paint when they returned home traumatised them,” Maitland RSL sub-branch president Eric Bell said. “The pain is only starting to heal for them now.”
Nearly 100 people paid their respects at the Vietnam veterans’ memorial, Maitland RSL, on the 46th anniversary of the Long Tan battle.
On August 18, 1966, a handful of Australian troops held back 2500 enemy forces with limited ammunition and no air support, because of heavy rain. Maitland suffered one loss during the war, Private PZ Trzecinski, after whom the New England Highway bridge was named.
Mr Bell said while the city lost many more men during the first and second world wars, other conflicts should not be forgotten.
“It’s important to bring to the fore their sacrifice without glorifying it,” he said. “And it’s not only important for the Vietnam War to be remembered, it is important for all the conflicts Australia has been involved in to be remembered.”
East Maitland RSL sub-branch vice-president and Vietnam veteran Brian Boughton spoke after the service during dinner.
In his speech, Mr Boughton looked back on Australia’s commitment of troops to Vietnam, especially those members of the Australian Army training team who arrived in Saigon on August 3, 1962.
He spoke about the efforts of that team throughout the 10 years of war and the chronology of Australian troops involvement through until their withdrawal.