Our latest display in the Main Memorabilia Cabinet is based on 50 Years since our troops left South Vietnam. This display was put together some three months ago, just before we had “Lock-Down”.
Because many of our members had little chance to view it, I have decided to leave the display in until the end of the year, and commence 2022 with a new display in January.
It is hard to believe after ten years, Australian troops were fighting in South Vietnam, however on the 26th July 1971, and as taken from the Cabinet Minutes of the time, Cabinet took up the question of the future of the Australian Forces in Vietnam.
It conducted its discussion in the light of the development in the United States Policy, which the U.S. Presidents proposal to visit Peking implies and in the light also the report of the Defence Committee already received. It also noted that there could be no assumption that the United States would not now speed up its own program of withdrawal.
In the circumstances, it decided that it should move immediately to withdraw and to do so to an “accelerated” timetable. In respect of the Task Force it would be the objective that the first of the two remaining battalions be withdrawn in October 1971 and the second in December 1971.
Our display shows a model of a “Huey” helicopter and the were used extensively during the war. A helicopter pilot in his original uniform with his original flying helmets of Squadron Leader Hillsmith.
Also shown is a typical Australian infantryman. The iconic photo of the Long Tan Cross is shown with the diggers of D Company of the 6th Battalion RAR (second Tour) In this display is a replica of the Long Tan Cross, bult by the digger that built the original Cross. Box Hill RSL is the custodian of this cross which was built during the 50th Anniversary of “Long Tan”.
With our troops withdrawing in 1971, the Vietnam War was regarded then as Australia, s longest Conflict. During that time, 521 troops were killed and a further 3129 troops were wounded. The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a Remembrance breakfast recently that All of Australia should hang their heads in shame the way the Australian troops were greeted upon their return to Australia. He also told the gathering that the shame wouldn’t go away easily especially when they were through over with red paint and called baby killers. This time has now passed and life goes on as they say, and the Vietnam Veterans certainly do hope that our younger troops those from Afghanistan are not treated like this.