Sunday 14th August 2022 saw the annual Vietnam day parade and service at Kings Park. Vietnam day (formerly Long Tan day) was originally held in remembrance of the battle of Long Tan which took place on the 18th August 1966, when 106 men of Delta Company, 6th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, confronted over 2,000 Vietnamese forces and engaged in a fierce battle.
Over time, Long Tan day eventually became Vietnam day and Vietnam veterans would meet up with fellow diggers and solemnly pay homage to those members of D Company - and in later years, to all those who paid the ultimate price in the Vietnam war.
In the mid to late 80’s, the only banner paraded at the Long Tan day parade at Kings Park was that of the Vietnam Veteran’s Association. In keeping with the RAEME family standards, the RAEME vets decided to parade a banner of their own. And so, a precedent was set, and from that day on, other corps and units paraded their banners. But - it was RAEME that led the way.
At it’s peak, Vietnam day saw many hundreds of vets and their banners paraded at the Vietnam memorial before the commemorative service took place. The odd beer and war story was exchanged between diggers on a day that was well represented and respected.
Sadly, the number of Vietnam veterans is dwindling. In fact, this year, the number of dignitaries outnumbered the total number of veterans on parade, with the dignitaries seated inside the pavilion whilst the diggers stood outside. With the dwindling number of veterans, so went the number of unit and corps banners, to the point where this year, there was only one banner on parade – and that was the RAEME Veterans banner. And so, the story of unit and corps banners on the Vietnam day parade has come the full circle. It began with the RAEME banner, and it appears as though it will end with the RAEME banner.
This year, our representation was very small. Don Phillips, Snowy Whykes, Phil Pitchers and Bernie Roy were joined by Grant “Stinno” Stinson in representing RAEME at the annual Vietnam day parade and service.
Above (From right to left): Garry (Snow) Whykes, Grant Stinson, keith Taylor, Phil Pitchers, Bernie Roy, and Kev Lawler.
The Vietnam war created many divisions within our society. The reintroduction of National Service saw young men in their 20’s called up for military duty, with many of them serving in Vietnam. In the period 1965 to 1972 there was many demonstrations, anti-war marches and “Save Our Son’s” rallies held throughout the country. But one single fact stood out – the Nasho’s did their country proud and continued the tradition of the Aussie Digger being respected throughout the world.
Most young tradesmen who were “called up” served with distinction alongside regular army tradesmen in various units in South Vietnam between 1965 and 1972. A little-known fact is, that the second largest contingent within the Australian Forces Vietnam was RAEME, second only to the Royal Australian Regiment.
Father time is quickly catching up with the Vietnam veteran – but their deeds will be forever remembered. - Snow