Many Australians would be familiar with the lyrics to “I Was Only 19” by Australian band Redgum, including the words “Frankie kicked a mine the day that mankind kicked the moon”.
21 July 1969 – or 50 years ago today – was the day the first man walked on the moon. Australian veterans of the Vietnam War remember it as the day two mines exploded in the “light green” zone, killing two Australian soldiers and wounding many others.
One of those men wounded was Dave Sturmer, now a well-renowned artist. I felt privileged to be invited to a commemorative event, organised by the Vietnam Veterans’ Association of Australia, at which some of Dave’s work was exhibited. You can see examples of his work at https://www.davesturmer.com.
The event was also a commemoration of the Battles of Hat Dich and Binh Ba.
It is important for Australia’s troops in any deployment to be fully supported, even if the decision to send them is controversial. It’s quite shameful that it took many years after the end of the Vietnam War to give Australia’s Vietnam Veterans the acknowledgement and thanks they deserve. I thank all Vietnam veterans for putting their lives on the line in the service of our country, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice.