Anzac Day: veterans form uniform bond


Republic of Vietnam Veterans Association of WA president Thanh Van Nguyen (front) and members at the Flame of Remembrance last week.
Republic of Vietnam Veterans Association of WA president Thanh Van Nguyen (front) and members at the Flame of Remembrance last week.

“With the Vietnam War, the army never fell and we are still in the army. The government fell, and we are still fighting the communists,” Republic of Vietnam Veterans Association of WA vice-president John Nguyen (65), said.

It has been 41 years since communist North Vietnamese tanks rolled into the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon.

The veterans now use peaceful “pen and paper” to campaign for freedom of speech and democracy in their original country.

About 100 of the association’s 300 members aged 62 to 85 will march through Perth on Anzac Day next Monday.

After 1975, many were sent by the Communist regime to “re-education’ camps” and all of those photographed by the Western Suburbs Weekly last week arrived in Australia as boat people seeking asylum in the early-1980s.

Many stayed at the Graylands migrant centre in Shenton Park, before they and their families moved to inner-city suburbs, including North Perth and Northbridge.

“We were always thinking the city was central and it would be easy for work,” association president Thanh Van Nguyen (64) said.

The association offers the camaraderie, support and health advice needed by veterans.

“At first I think I don’t know how I can cope after getting here, but when I see the Australian people welcome us, we work to do something with our lives here,” Phi Khanh Huynh (64) said.

All the veterans remember their Australian allies’ efforts during the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan this year.

“With Long Tan, we remember what good fighters the Australians were. They were the best fighters,” Huu Duc Nguyen (66) said.

Sunset Anzac services, Flame of Remembrance at Kings Park, 5pm each day until Sunday.