LEST WE FORGET: Jan and Ken Patterson standing by the Cannonvale Cenotaph at the Vietnam Veterans Day remembrance service on Saturday.
LEST WE FORGET: Jan and Ken Patterson standing by the Cannonvale Cenotaph at the Vietnam Veterans Day remembrance service on Saturday. CONTRIBUTED

In memory of those that fell during the Vietnam War

IT'S BEEN 45 years since the last Australian troops were withdrawn from the carnage of the Vietnam War but, for those who served, the nightmare lingers.

The Vietnam War was the cause of one of the greatest social and political dissents in Australia sparking draft resistance and in some instances, violent protests.

But Vietnam Veterans Day, officially launched by former Prime Minister Bob Hawke in 1987 to commemorate the Battle of Long Tan, has been described by veterans as a "knee-jerk reaction” to apologise for the cold reception soldiers received.

Whitsunday/Airlie Beach RSL deputy president Bill Rose said the majority of RSL members were Vietnam veterans who came home to a country that almost rejected them outright.

Mr Rose was a member of the Royal Australian Navy for 38 years and, although he did not serve in Vietnam, he witnessed the ill-treatment of Australian troops from the Vietnam and Korean wars.

"There were groups that would wait around railway stations and bus stops and throw red paint on uniformed people calling them baby-killers and that sort of stuff,” he said.

"It got to the stage where the military itself told everyone they were to wear civilian clothes when they went on shore on leave.

"The Vietnam boys copped it the worst. The treatment they were given was abominable. It should never have happened.”

Eighteen Australian soldiers died in the Battle of Long Tan. A service at Cannonvale Cenotaph last Saturday commemorated the Battle of Long Tan and the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Coral-Balmoral.