Vietnam Veterans Day to be commemorated in Rockingham and Kwinana

Jake DietschSound Telegraph
Vietnam veteran Mick Ryan and Safety Bay Ex-Services and Community Club president Lyndon Jackson.
Camera IconVietnam veteran Mick Ryan and Safety Bay Ex-Services and Community Club president Lyndon Jackson. Credit: Jake Dietsch

The local community is invited to commemorate the courage and sacrifice of those who served in the Vietnam War.

A service will be held by the Safety Bay Ex-Services and Community Club on Vietnam Veterans Day, August 18, at the Vietnam Veterans Rock adjacent to the Rockingham Cenotaph.

The proceedings will start at eight minutes past 5pm, coinciding with the opening contact of the Battle of Long Tan.

Club secretary-treasurer and Vietnam veteran Mick Ryan served in the military for 20 years and is urging Rockingham residents to attend to pay their respects.

Mr Ryan was a flight engineer and flew with Prime Minister Harold Holt’s personal crew from Singapore to Vietnam and throughout South East Asia.

He said the service was a day to remember the sacrifices people made “for our country and our freedom”.

While Mr Ryan believes Vietnam was a “useless war” that “should never have happened in the first place”, the disrespect veterans experienced when they came home still haunts him.

“It was the servicemen that got the brunt for an action that the government dictated they do. We didn’t have a choice,” he said.

Club president Lyndon Jackson will MC the service, which has been run by the group since 2017.

Mr Jackson said the service would include a guest speech from Major Vikram Sheema, a formal wreath ceremony, the sounding of the Last Post, a minute’s silence and prayers.

The club president said the organisation was pleased the event could go ahead as WA has flattened the COVID-19 curve, while Anzac Day had to be cancelled.

“This had been in doubt for quite some time but the rules were relaxed enough for us to say, ‘yes, this is going ahead’,” he said.

Mr Jackson said the day would also highlight the ongoing mental health challenges veterans face.

“We lost 521 Australians in the Vietnam War,” he said.

“It’s a sad figure that since the Vietnam War we’ve lost far more than 521 to suicide.

“It’s something we acknowledge but we seem to be unable to check the rates of suicide.”

Mr Ryan also believes the service will raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Prior to the Vietnam War PTSD wasn't recognised. The war brought out the fact that returning servicemen were facing (mental health) problems,” he said.

“(PTSD) destroyed a lot of people.

“It’s still not completely understood today, but it’s understood a lot more.”

Meanwhile, an official service and wreath laying will be held at the Pace Road Memorial, Kwinana, at 10.45am on August 18.

Members and the public are invited to the Kwinana RSL Sub Branch for refreshments after the service. For more information, email kwinanarsl@bigpond.com.

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

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