Vietnam Veterans Day 2018 commemorations at Maitland Park

LEST WE FORGET: Maitland Vietnam Veterans and Services Legion secretary Stan Carbines and president Peter Margetts at Maitland Park ahead of Friday's commemorations. Picture: Simone De Peak
LEST WE FORGET: Maitland Vietnam Veterans and Services Legion secretary Stan Carbines and president Peter Margetts at Maitland Park ahead of Friday's commemorations. Picture: Simone De Peak

Peter Margetts still remembers the day he was conscripted to service in Vietnam.

“It didn’t sort of worry me, I was quite willing to take part,” the Maitland Vietnam Veterans and Services Legion president said.

Looking back, there were a lot of sacrifices involved in being in the defence force, especially as a 20 year old.

Some Vietnam veterans may keep the distress of war at the back of their minds, but on Friday, family and friends will gather at Maitland Park cenotaph to remember the sacrifice of those killed in action.

“Most of us are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder since returning from Vietnam,” Mr Margetts said.

“Just some of the things we’ve seen, and some pretty traumatic experiences which affect you later on in life.”

Despite the difficult memories, he said a positive from his time in Vietnam was the mates he served with.

“I wouldn’t say I’ve got anything [good] besides friendships out of serving in Vietnam,” he said.

According to Mr Margetts, such friendships formed in the services are like no other.

“I think it’s a military brotherhood type of relationship that’s formed through serving in a conflict,” he said.

“I still have friends I served with back in those days plus the guys in our legion.

“We have about 45 guys in our legion who we didn’t actually serve with in Vietnam per se, but since coming home we have formed a bond with those veterans.”

In previous years, the service has drawn around 70 people, but Mr Margetts would like to see more attend.

“It’s really only family and friends that attend Vietnam Veterans Day but at the same time it’s a day that’s sort of remembered Australia wide now,” he said.

“I’d like to see more people attend but as we’re all getting older now, the average age of Vietnam veterans would be 70 years old.

“I think once we die out, Vietnam veterans day will also die out.

“It’s a bit sad but it was a very unpopular war and we weren’t recognised when we came home.

“We were sort of smuggled back into the country in the dark of night sometimes because there was a lot of protest against the Vietnam war.”

All are welcome to the service at Maitland Park at 4pm on Friday.

The service will begin with a short march from the swimming pool to the cenotaph.

Maitland Pipes and Drums will provide the march music.

After the service there will be finger food at Maitland Park Bowling Club.

Vietnam Veterans Day is commemorated across Australia every year on August 18 – the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.

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