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Monday, 18 August 2003
Page: 18691

Mr BILLSON (1:55 PM) —The chill in the westerly wind blowing in off Port Phillip Bay could not diminish the warmth in our hearts and our admiration for the Vietnam veterans honoured at the memorial service held in Frankston on Sunday. As always, the Frankston RSL President, Rod Mc-Clelland, was sincere, reflective and dignified in his welcome to the gathered veterans, their families and supporters, as part of a service made more poignant by another thoughtful and contemplative address by Reverend Alan Fletcher. The arrangements of the club manager, Mark Dalmau, were once again spot-on. The inaugural commemoration hosted by the Frankston RSL, in conjunction with the Frankston subbranch of the Vietnam Veterans Association, was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the momentous battle that took place 37 years ago in Long Tan rubber plantation.

VVA subbranch president David Wain recounted how, on 18 August 1966, 108 men of D Company 6RAR walked into a well-laid Vietcong trap in Long Tan rubber plantation. In torrential rain they were suddenly hit with mortars and bullets; some died instantly. Surrounded and outnumbered, they formed a circle. They fought off wave after wave of suicidal attacks, until rescued hours later when a relieving force decimated the enemy from its rear. Weather conditions had made normal conflict and air support impossible. Local Long Tan veteran David Sabben joined us for the service and was recognised for his valour.

To the Australians who served their country and did what was asked of them during the 10 years of Australian involvement in the Vietnam conflict, you are all heroes to me. Just as we cannot forget the sacrifice and service of our Vietnam veterans, let us remember their families. (Time expired)