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Thursday, 16 May 2013
Page: 3583

Mr MITCHELL (McEwen) (10:11): It was on honour for me on 26 April to present some local veterans with 'Saluting Their Service' certificates. It is important that we recognise these veterans for the work that they have done overseas in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping.

First was John Sharley. He served in Australia's commitment to the war in Vietnam in the sixties and early seventies as a leading aircraftman with the RAAF. He went to South Vietnam between 1970 and 1971. John worked on the Caribous and many other types of aircraft during the time he was in South Vietnam.

The story of our involvement in Vietnam is close to my heart. I have visited the country and seen where Australians have fought and died. I have also strongly supported the building of the Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk in Seymour and I look forward to a very positive announcement from Minister King, hopefully, later this week.

There was also Ted Daniell. Ted is a proud Darwin defender. He was only 13 when the war started but, as soon as he turned 18, he joined up and headed to Darwin as part of the RAAF. He spent the last years of the war protecting our important northern communications bases and seaports from enemy attack, especially from the air.

There was Herbert O'Brien, who, according to Herbert's records, joined just days before the imperial Japanese launched their offensive, in December 1941, on Pearl Harbor. He joined the RAAF and served until several months after the end of the war, leaving his service as a leading aircraftman. His service saw him sent to New Guinea, Europe and the Pacific.

There was also Basil Penrose. Basil served in the Royal Australian Navy in both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. His service is listed on the World War II Nominal Roll, from January 1943 through to March 1946. His service included being a stoker on HMAS Quiberon, a Q-class British-built destroyer, where he served most of his time.

Posthumously, we presented Jack Sheehan his certificate. Jack passed away just a couple of weeks before Anzac Day, at the age of 93. I had the pleasure of meeting Jack when he was selling poppies at Kilmore Coles last year and he kept me there for an hour as we talked about the stories that he had from the war. Jack joined up at the age of 18, in 1939, shortly after war was declared, at the Shepparton Drill Hall, being placed with one of the earliest formed battalions in the AIF from the Victorian 2/7th. With them, he went off in early 1940 by ship to the Middle East, North Africa and eventually to the ill-fated Greece and Crete campaigns in spring 1941.

Jack's story is amazing. He was captured as a prisoner of war where he recalled the poor conditions of the camp. He described one as 'dirty, with plenty of lice and slit trenches for latrines,' and he described a camp in Greece that was made up of 'flea- and bug-ridden huts'. He further stated, 'Most of us had lost weight during the time through dysentery, with very little food.'

He recalled how it was a harrowing experience. Jack was able to escape and, eventually, he walked from Germany all the way to England before coming back to Australia where he lived a fulfilling life.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): Order! In accordance with standing order 193 the time for constituency statements has concluded.