ARMADALE Vietnam Veteran Hans Van de Velde will be among thousands of former Australian soldiers who will be going to Vietnam to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.
Mr Van de Velde served as a 19-year-old military policeman in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968, and will be making his first return visit to the country when he flies out of Perth tonight.
He was one of the youngest MPs to serve in Vietnam after initially joining the army aged 17 as a medic and was in the army for six years.
Mr Van de Velde said he was looking forward to catching up with his former comrades and having a look around the country after taking part in the Long Tan service on August 18.
“The ceremony will be pretty low key as we won’t be allowed to wear our medals out of respect for the Vietnamese Government,” he said.
Among his roles during the war was manning checkpoints, helping with logistics support and being an escort on navy landing craft during supply runs along the coast.
Almost 60,000 Australians served in Vietnam from 1962 until 1975; 521 lost their lives and more than 3000 were wounded.
Many more veterans suffered, and continue to suffer, because of their service.
The Battle of Long Tan was one of the fiercest battles fought by Australian soldiers in the Vietnam War, involving 105 Australians and three New Zealanders from D Company 6RAR.
Seventeen Australians were killed in action and 25 were wounded, one of whom later died from his wounds.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan paid tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of Australians who served in Vietnam.
“This year marks an important milestone in our history as we honour every Australian who served in Vietnam,” Mr Tehan said.
“On the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan it’s time for Australia, as a nation, to pay our Vietnam veterans the respect they deserve for the service and sacrifice they gave to our country.”