A group of Year 10 and 12 students from Eden Marine High School have commemorated Vietnam Veterans’ Remembrance Day, with a trip to the Australian War Memorial on Monday.
The students travelled to Canberra with English and history teacher Gary Berman and local RSL sub-branch members, including Eden RSL secretary Steve Mahoney.
They attended a service at the War Memorial, where they were later given a tour, as well as being treated to a performance by singer-songwriter and poet, Brett Hunt.
A renowned Australian performer, Brett’s father Frank is a Vietnam veteran who famously features in the Redgum song, ‘I was only 19’.
The line, "Frankie kicked the mine the day that mankind kicked the moon" refers to July 20, 1969, when Frank kicked a landmine in Vietnam, and Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.
Mr Berman said the experience is one that will stick in the minds of the students.
“It’s much better than sitting in a classroom reading from a textbook,” he said.
“They’ve heard a first-hand account about what life was like as the son of a Vietnam veteran.
“That’s not something you get to hear every day.
“They’ve also been surrounded by a lot of veterans throughout the day, so they’ve been able to ask questions and really get a good understanding.”
Mr Mahoney said he was happy to accept the school’s invitation to travel with them to Canberra.
“We haven’t done this before, but a busload of students have come up for the day and they wanted some of the veterans to come with them,” he said.
“Myself and a couple of the other guys put our hands up and it’s been a great day.”
The arrival of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam in South Vietnam during July and August, 1962, marked the commencement of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.
By the time the war had come to an end, over a decade later, almost 60,000 Australians had served.
Of these men and women, 521 died and more than 3,000 were wounded.
August 18, previously known as Long Tan Day, was chosen to commemorate the men of the D company 6RAR, who fought in the Battle of Long Tan in 1966.
On that day,18 Australians were killed and 24 wounded.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has reminded residents that a range of support and services are available to veterans and their families.
Children of Vietnam Veterans can access the Long Tan Bursary Scheme which provides up to $9,000 over three years to help them pursue their chosen study or professional career.
Applications open on Monday, August 18 and will close on Friday, October 31.
The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) is the legacy of Australia's Vietnam veterans.
Founded in 1982, VVCS provides free and confidential, nation-wide counselling and support for war and service-related mental health conditions to all Australian veterans and their families.
For help, to learn more, or to check eligibility for VVCS services, call 1800 011 046 or click here.