Fifty years after Australia ended its involvement in the Vietnam War, the Blue Mountains community has come together in Springwood to commemorate the conflict.
A large crowd turned out to the Vietnam Veterans and Associated Forces Memorial Day at Springwood Cenotaph at 11am on Sunday, August 13.
In one of the more poignant moments in the service, Vietnam War veteran Terry Ryan, who took part in the Battle of Long Tan in 1966, helped lay 18 poppies at the cenotaph - one for every Australian who was killed in the battle.
Earlier in the service, guest of honour Brigadier Nerolie McDonald paid tribute to veterans like Mr Ryan in her memorial day address.
Brigadier McDonald, who began her military service in 1992, said she was "one of the last of the current generation of Defence Force personnel to be trained by our Vietnam Veterans".
"These veterans taught me about the Anzac spirit, they taught me about mateship, they taught me about resilience and teamwork - and importantly, through their stories, I learned about the devastations and realities of war."
She said she gained an insight into the controversy surrounding the Vietnam War from the veterans who trained her.
"I saw a public face to men who faced backlashes and a lack of support during the Vietnam War. Through your struggles and your fight for justice and recognition, Australia eventually recognised that the Defence Force is a tool of government and one that we need to separate from the public discourse on the issue of the day. We need to keep that away from the men and women who serve and undertake these duties."
A Vietnamese speaker, Brigadier McDonald said she has a "deep connection" with the country after serving as Australia's Defence Attache to Vietnam from 2017-2019.
"It was there I witnessed firsthand Australian and Vietnamese veterans coming together to reflect and to come to peace with the past," she said.
But she turned to the present and looked to the future in her final remarks.
"We live in very challenging times and commemorations like this - and the recent tragic loss of four Australian Army personnel during a helicopter training accident - remind us we must never forget the sacrifices made when preparing for, and undertaking operations, to defend this nation and our way of life."
Assistant Defence Force Minister Matt Thistlethwaite was one of the special guests at the service, along with Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman and Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill.
Mr Thistlethwaite met veterans in the Royal Hotel after the service, where a lunch for the memorial day was held.
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