ANZAC day approaches, marking the anniversary of Australia’s first major military action fought during the First World War. We, as a nation, mark this day to remember and thank all servicemen and women both past, present and fallen for their service for not only the First World War but for every conflict following.
It can be stated that the Vietnam War was one of the longest standing wars; it lasted 10 years, commencing in 1962 with the last withdrawal of combat troops in 1973. The Vietnam War was the last war to date to utilise conscripts - which very quickly made up a large percentage of personnel deployed to the conflict with all three services involved (Army, Navy and Air Force).
Initially the Australian public was not opposed to the war, but as the commitment and conscripts grew so did the public view to the war, with many Australians feeling as though the war was being lost. This all eventually came to a head during the early 1970’s with over 200,000 citizens taking to the streets in major cities around Australia in protest. As a result the commitment had ended for the combat troops in March 1972 with many of them brought home. However, RAAF personnel were sent back to Vietnam in 1975 for the assistance in evacuations and humanitarian aid during the war's final days. The total death toll for this war was 500 servicemen and 3,000 injured.
*Caption: An injured casualty about to medically evacuated
*Caption: Entertainment for the troops
Whilst I was growing up my father served in the Royal Air Force and my Uncle served in the Australian Navy and was deployed to the Vietnam War. I too wanted to be a part of something bigger than just me, my family and my town, so I also joined the Royal Australian Air Force as a Medic. Throughout my career in the RAAF I have travelled to many places, had plenty of adventures and met a lot of people along the way. Additionally, and probably most importantly, some very strong values have been ingrained in me: Mateship, Courage, Compassion, Integrity and Loyalty... just to name a few.
Now married and with a family of my own I feel it is important to teach our children about the sacrifice that the servicemen and women of our Defence Force has made - who, in many cases, were teenagers and young adults when they made the sacrifice and headed off to war to fight for our nation and our freedom.
*Caption: ANZAC day ceremonies
So tomorrow try not to focus on the political agenda behind the wars but take the time to pay respect to the fallen, thank the Diggers and the men and women who have been to a conflict and served our great nation.
Lest We Forget.