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Vietnam Veterans remembered during Shepparton service

By Liz Mellino

The clouds cleared just before 11am yesterday to ensure the sun was shining during the annual Vietnam Veterans Day service.

More than 50 people attended the Shepparton Centoaph, including Vietnam veterans, their families and friends, to honour the 521 Australian servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice while fighting for their country.

Marking the 53rd anniversary, the day commemorates the Battle of Long Tan, which started on the same day in 1966.

"The bravery of those Australian soldiers fighting against the odds in pouring rain, was later to become a focal point of Remembrance in what we now know as Vietnam Veterans Remembrance Day," Vietnam veteran Bill Brown said during the service.

"They gave their lives in support of their mates; friendships were broken and families were broken."

This year marked the 50th anniversary of two smaller battles, the Battle of Hat Dich and the Battle of Binh Ba, which Shepparton RSL president Bob Wilkie spoke about during the service.

Guest speaker Ewen McLean shared a poem that he recently wrote about a friend who was in the Delta Company 6 RAR before serving in Vietnam between 1966 and 1967.

"I wrote it for him about him, but about other veterans as well, because of the way they were treated when they came home," Mr McLean said.

"I'm sure they know that now, but just to reiterate that they are honoured and respected nowadays and we're very grateful for their service."

Wreaths were laid on behalf of the Goulburn Valley Vietnam Veterans Association (GVVVA), Shepparton RSL, Numurkah RSL and the National Servicemen's Association before the Ode was read by VGVVVA vice-president Trevor Begley.

The service concluded with the national anthem before attendees were invited to the Shepparton RSL for lunch.