Vietnam Veterans Day 2022 – A Commemorative Service

By Tony Fryer

St Marys Vietnam Veterans Association, St Marys Outpost, together with St Marys RSL sub-Branch held their annual Commemorative Service for Vietnam Veterans Day on Thursday 18th August.  It was very well attended and received by about 200 Vietnam Veterans, other veterans, their family and friends.

The pre-Service slideshow commenced at 4.30pm in the auditorium of the St Marys Diggers Club.  It coincided with the timing of the Battle of Long Tan (56 years prior), for which the Service was originally conceived.  The Service then commenced at 5.00pm with a custom-written poem “The Last Wakey” by Tomas Hamilton.  This poem reflected the thoughts and memories of Veterans who use the term to count down their operational time away from
home.  This was most appropriate in 2022, since it marks 50 years since the last combat troops left Vietnam.

Outpost President Tony Mullavey set the focus of the evening and was followed by our guest speaker, Vin Cosgrove, a Vietnam Veteran who presented a detailed and memory-jogging list of achievements that Vietnam Veterans have achieved since their return – achievements to assist subsequent veterans in their struggle to return to ‘civilian’ and family life.  We also paid particular homage to Jack Jewry since it marked 56 years (almost to the minute) since he was killed
during the Long Tan Battle – Jack’s sister Rita kindly participated and lit the candles to commence the Service.

To emphasise the recognition of the part that families play in supporting veterans, the Prayer of Remembrance was read by James Fryer, son of the MC for the evening, Tony.  Tony was among the final batch of combat troops to return home on 9th March 1972.

5 Engineer Regiment kindly provided their usual highly efficient Catafalque Party; 21 Army Cadet Unit members did a great job also, in preparing the candles; 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers Band members were their typical best in providing musical backing both during the Service and the post-Service supper.  Thank you to them all.