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Cobram's poignant ceremony for diggers

Cobram service sees crowd commemorate 48th anniversary of a key Vietnam battle.

LAURA HURLEY August 21, 2014 3:46am

Lest we forget: Cobram Primary School students lay poppies for fallen diggers on Vietnam Veterans Day


Diggers who fought at Vietnam were commemorated on Monday at a wreath-laying ceremony for Vietnam Veterans Day.

The day marked the 48th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, where 18 Australian soldiers lost their lives as they battled against enormous odds.

Present at the ceremony were members of the Cobram Barooga RSL, students from local schools, and representatives from community groups and emergency services.

The wintry, windy conditions made The Last Post all the more haunting as the crowd remembered those who lost their lives in service of the country.

Barry Clarke from the Cobram Barooga Commemorative Committee spoke about the Battle of Long Tan and the endurance of the Australian spirit.

‘‘As the war escalated our commitment grew to two battalions,’’ he said.

‘‘On the 18th of August 1966, a patrol of 118 diggers faced the North Vietnamese at Long Tan.

‘‘The odds against the Australians have been estimated to be as high as 26 to one.’’

The troops battled through difficult conditions and ran low on supplies and ammunition.

‘‘This was averted when two helicopter crew from the RAAF volunteered to drop ammunition to them,’’ Mr Clarke said.

‘‘The Australians suffered 18 killed and 25 injured in the battle.

‘‘The Vietnam War was not a popular war in this country at that time, leading to a situation when those called to serve this country when called upon to do so were not given the recognition that they truly deserved.’’

The situation was rectified in 1987 when August 18 was named Vietnam Veterans Day, representing the number of men killed during the battle.

Wreaths were laid at the Cobram Cenotaph by members of the community in recognition of those who fought and suffered for Australia.

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