Sacrifice of Vietnam Veterans remembered

Year 5 St Thomas Aquinas Primary School student Xavier Gonzalez observes the memorial service with fellow students.

Year 5 St Thomas Aquinas Primary School student Xavier Gonzalez observes the memorial service with fellow students.

Young navy cadets march on Sunday holding the flags of South Vietnam, United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Young navy cadets march on Sunday holding the flags of South Vietnam, United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Army cadets march while playing snare and bass drums in the parade down Macquarie Road, Springwood.

Army cadets march while playing snare and bass drums in the parade down Macquarie Road, Springwood.

2014 Blue Mountians Vietnam Veterans and Allied Forces Memorial Day special guest speaker Rear Admiral Neil Ralph.

2014 Blue Mountians Vietnam Veterans and Allied Forces Memorial Day special guest speaker Rear Admiral Neil Ralph.

A row of young army cadets at the memorial service in Springwood.

A row of young army cadets at the memorial service in Springwood.

Members of Sydney's Vietnamese community were a strong presence at Sunday's Blue Mountains Vietnam Veterans and Associated Forces Memorial Day.

Members of Sydney's Vietnamese community were a strong presence at Sunday's Blue Mountains Vietnam Veterans and Associated Forces Memorial Day.

Torrential rain cleared almost on cue about 20 minutes before the start of Sunday's Blue Mountains Vietnam Veterans and Associated Forces Memorial Day parade in Springwood.

The rain kept away, but just in case it returned the memorial ceremony was held on the Braemar Gallery building's porch rather than at the war memorial across the road.

This year's special guest, Rear Admiral Neil Ralph, said "even though we did not prevail [in the Vietnam War], Australians served their cause very faithfully - evidently in battle - but not without grievous losses. There were 500 Australian deaths overseas [during the decade-long conflict]. Australians remember that today and we'll always, lest we forget."

A message was read out from the association's patron Lt Col Nerolie McDonald who is currently serving in Sinai, Egypt: "Today we remember the sacrifice of our Vietnam Veterans - and those sacrifices reflect not only what they had to endure during the war, but also on return to Australia," it read in part.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the first Australian soldier dying in Vietnam as a result of enemy action.

Glenbrook resident and RAAF veteran Jim North, who served in Vietnam, Malaya and New Guinea as an electrical engineer, told the Gazette the parade and ceremony was "a day when we remember what happened and a day when we (veterans) can meet a whole lot of people and catch up.

"There are so many stories - everyone's got something to tell."

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