Buninyong Vietnam War veteran Ron Fleming will be the guest speaker at Ballarat’s Remembrance Day service tomorrow.
While Remembrance Day is held to honour all Australians who fought, died and suffered in the First World War and subsequent conflicts, 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the commencement of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.
Between August 1962 and May 1975, nearly 60,000 Australians including navy, army and air force personnel as well as service nurses served in Vietnam.
Of those, 521 died and more than 3000 were evacuated with wounds, injuries or illnesses.
Mr Fleming said 50 years was a significant anniversary for Vietnam War veterans, but said the day was for Australians as a whole to remember and recognise those who had served in any conflict.
“We’ve still got 200,000 World War II servicemen and 40,000 Vietnam veterans alive in Australia,” he said.
“There’s also another 60,000 people that have serviced in some form of other conflict since World War II.”
“Remembrance Day is a call to the community to reflect on those men and women who have served - and are still serving.”
Mr Fleming said his father was a World War II veteran, so he always had plenty to do with Remembrance Day and ANZAC Day.
Then, he went to war himself.
“I was one of the 60,000 Australian service personnel in Vietnam, spend my tour in the 161 Independent Reconnaissance Flight between 1967 and 1968,” he said.
“I suppose being a veteran meant that Remembrance Day became even more significant.”
Mr Fleming remained a member of the Regular Army Emergency Reserve until 1975 and is the current Ballarat Legacy President.
“521 Australians lost their lives in Vietnam and Legacy continues to play a vital role supporting their families,” he said.
Mr Fleming said he would urge the community to recognise the efforts of all those who served in Australia’s armed forces in his speech tomorrow.
Ballarat’s ceremony will begin at 10.30am at the Cenotaph in Sturt Street.