Australians have been urged to remember the sacrifices and courage of troops who fought in the Vietnam War on the 53rd anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.
Australian troops who fought in Vietnam have been honoured at ceremonies across the country marking the 53rd anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.
The heart of Sydney was brought to a standstill as hundreds gathered at the Martin Place Cenotaph on Sunday morning to remember the courage of the 108 Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought about 2,000 Viet Cong soldiers in the defining battle of the Vietnam war.
It was fought against almost impossible odds in a rubber plantation where 18 Australians died and 24 were wounded on Aug. 18, 1966.
On that same afternoon a concert for the troops was being performed by Australian singers Col Joye and 17-year-old Little Pattie who had to be evacuated from the stage mid-performance when the battle escalated.
On Sunday Little Pattie once again performed for veterans, appearing at the Sydney ceremony to sing What a Wonderful World, accompanied by the Australian Army Band.
Acting RSL NSW president and Vietnam veteran Ray James said it was important to remember and respect all Australians who served, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, those who were forever scarred and those who care for veterans.
“It’s about the camaraderie,” James told AAP on Aug. 18.
“We think about the people who never came back, those we’ve lost since then and we come together to catch up with each other and talk about the good and bad times.”
Federal Veteran Affairs Minister Darren Chester said it was important to reflect on the bravery and teamwork that was displayed in the battle and the wider war where almost 60,000 Australians served, 521 died and 3000 were wounded.
“We remember the sacrifices of those who died and say thank you to all those who served,” he said in a statement.
Chester was due to attend a remembrance service at the Sale RSL sub branch in Victoria to pay tribute to those who served.
Opposition Veteran Affairs Minister Shayne Neumann said the Battle of Long Tan was regarded as one of the “fiercest” battles fought by Australian soldiers.
“These brave Australians diggers prevailed after fighting in torrential rain for four hours,” he said in a statement.
Neumann said he would attend a remembrance service at the Vietnam Forces National Memorial in Canberra.
State and territory ministers across the country urged Australians to pause and recognise the sacrifice of our servicemen and women during the Vietnam War.
The Royal Australian Air Force planned flypasts over the weekend in Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, Melbourne, Canberra, Western Australia and NSW’s Newcastle to commemorate Vietnam Veterans Day.
By Dominica Sanda