Vietnam veterans gather for reunion in Goolwa

Remembrance: Visiting 5RAR veterans from around the country who gathered for an annual reunion, paid their respects at the Goolwa RSL alongside local veterans on Vietnam Veterans Day.
Remembrance: Visiting 5RAR veterans from around the country who gathered for an annual reunion, paid their respects at the Goolwa RSL alongside local veterans on Vietnam Veterans Day.

It was a special day for a group of Vietnam veterans who gathered in Goolwa on Sunday August 18.

Members of 5RAR D Company 10, 11, and 12 Platoon who hail from across the country, gathered for an annual reunion and met with local veterans from Goolwa, to mark Vietnam Veterans Day.

Previously known as Long Tan Day, Vietnam Veterans Day commemorates the service of all those men and women who served in Vietnam.

On Sunday at the commemoration ceremony held at the Goolwa RSL, a member of the visiting group, Francis "Doc" Donovan, delivered a speech which described the reasons behind the annual reunion of veterans and their experiences in Vietnam.

Mr Donovan described his experience as a medic when he and D Coy 5RAR were called in as relief on August 19 1966, the day following the Battle of Long Tan.

"Our task was to assist the remnant D Coy 6RAR to clear the battle field," he said.

"When we arrived in APCs during the early morning of August 19 and confronted that scene of carnage and destruction, I for one realised the nightmare endured by both sides that night.

"Over 2000, enemy confronted 108 of our D Coy 6RAR for more than four hours; attacking in wave upon wave of furious and deadly assault. Those waves lay right there in front of us still, in mutilated death.

"How D Coy 6RAR endured and survived that nightmare with 18 dead and 30 odd wounded still leaves me in awe of their courage, endurance, mateship and sacrifice. I saw those ANZAC values displayed again and again in my own unit, if on smaller scales.

"We became brothers in arms with the men we served," he said.

While Sunday was a time for somber remembrance, the visiting 5RAR veterans and their wives enjoyed an fantastic weekend, with their reunion this year hosted by Goolwa's Bryan (pictured far-left) and Madeleine O'Donnell.

They laughed, sang, and joked together and after enjoying a welcome by Mayor Keith Parkes at Art WorX on Friday night, sampled local wine and cruised the Coorong, whilst as always, reflecting on their mates who did not return home or who have since passed.