[Photo caption: Before, these individuals served in (from left to right) the South Vietnamese Air Force, Australian Army and 33 Regiment NVA. Vung Tau, 26 March 2016.]
On Saturday, 26 March 2016, these former foes were together in Vung Tau (near HCMC) in a spirit of genuine friendship.
Rob Herring (middle of photo above) is a Vietnam Veteran who served in the Australian Army. Mr Thu (far right) served with 33 Regiment NVA. Back in September 1971, these two faced off against each other in the Battle of Nui Le which was the last major battle fought by Australian and New Zealand forces in South Vietnam.
The third person (far left) was a UH1B Huey helicopter pilot with the South Vietnamese Air Force (far left) during the American / Vietnam War. On 30 April 1975, during the American evacuation of Saigon, he piloted his chopper to a US warship off the coast of Vung Tau as part of Operation Frequent Wind. Once landed, the helicopter was literally pushed overboard to make room for the next incoming helicopter.
In total, 54 helicopters were pushed into the sea from US warships during the evacuation.
Gala Dinner for 50th Anniversary of Long Tan
On 18 August 2016, a Gala Dinner will be held in Vung Tau to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan. It will bring together Vietnamese, Australians and New Zealanders.
While the Gala Dinner acknowledges the past, its focus is very much on friendship and looking forward.
Already, a great bond exists between the countries and the intention is that this bond will continue to grow stronger over the next 50 years.
[Note. As with all services at the Long Tan Cross, the wearing of medals and uniforms, as well as the displaying of national flags in 2016, is NOT PERMITTED. The same conditions will apply at the Gala Dinner. The understanding by attendees of the political sensitivities involved is appreciated by the organisers.]
For further information