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06-05-07, 05:12 AM #1
Finally home after 42yrs in Vietnam
Taken from todays paper. Two Aust. servicemen returned to Australia after being left on a Vietnam battlefield 42 years ago.
Rest in peace diggers.
THE tears came in torrents. Robert Gillson had waited almost 42 long years for this moment.
Finally, he and mum Lorraine Easton, and her second son, Craig Hawes, could say goodbye to Private Peter Gillson, killed on a Vietnamese battlefield in November, 1965.
Mission impossible had become mission accomplished for the man who never met his dad.
The flag-draped caskets of Pte Gillson, of Melbourne, and Lance Corporal Richard "Tiny" Parker, of Sydney, stood on the steamy 40C tarmac as the strains of the Last Post echoed for the first time across the former enemy runway at Hanoi's Nai Boi international airport.
About 70 people watched as the coffins with wreaths, slouch hats and bayonets on top, and led by 1 Battalion's Regimental Sergeant Major Warrant Officer Barry Van den Hurk, carrying their medals on a red cushion, were gently borne to an RAAF Hercules for the long journey home.
During the 45-minute service, Mrs Gillson's hands seldom left her sons' knees.
As New Zealand government official and bugler John Egan finished the Last Post, the coffins were loaded by a sweat-soaked bearer party from the 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment.
Army chaplain Ted McMillan placed a symbolic sprig of gum leaves on the caskets.
"Dad will be in a place he should be and I will be able to pay my respects and have father-and-son chats," Robert said.
Mrs Gillson was too moved to speak to the Herald Sun but issued a few simple words.
"This is obviously a day of mixed emotions . . . it is difficult to describe how I feel. The whole experience has been rather surreal, but I am thankful that after 42 years Peter is finally coming home."
She paid tribute to the dedication of Jim Bourke, a veteran who worked to locate the remains, and Operation Aussies Home, and the Federal Government for its support.
For former platoon commander Clive Williams, ex-corporal Trevor Hagan and former sergeant Gordon Peterson, it has been 15,152 days since their mates fell in battle and they were unable to retrieve them.
"Tiny was my second in command and I get him in my hands today," Mr Hagan said.
"Mission accomplished. We found you, dug you up and now we are bringing you home to your family."
It was also an emotional and satisfying day for Mr Bourke, who'd spent years planning, and weeks in the stifling heat of Vietnam searching for the two diggers.
The first evidence from the excavation on the site near Bien Hoa, north of the old southern capital of Saigon, was a boot, then some bones, then a perfectly preserved map of the battle zone and, finally, two sets of dog tags.
"We had them," Mr Bourke said.
Veterans Affairs Minister Bruce Billson led the ceremony with dignity and compassion.
After early official dithering, Mr Billson funded the search project as the "moral duty of a grateful nation".
The coffins will arrive in Darwin tonight before flying on to Richmond RAAF base in Sydney tomorrow. Private Gillson will be buried in Melbourne Friday and Lance Corporal Parker in Canberra on Tuesday."Contrary to popular belief, you will not rise to the occasion, but will fall to the level of your training"
06-05-07, 05:32 AM #2
That's a nice story. One of my old workmates is a Vietnam Veteran (Austrralian Army) and has moved back to Oz after retiring from the Met Police.To be born an Englishman, is to be a winner in the Lottery of Life.
I've Talked the Talk and I've Walked the Walk, now I Sit the Sit!
It's not until you look at an Ant through a magnifying glass on a sunny day, that you realise just how often they burst into flames for no reason!
06-05-07, 07:20 AM #3
its good they are finally home.http://www.allpoetry.com/Grunts%20Girl
We dallied under
Vine maples and sapling alders
Searched for lady slippers
Found blackberry riots and
An old skid road
Brought ghost ferns and
Hollows filled with
While waves wrapped
Intricate lacings of weeds
'Round mule spinners
His cyanotic eyes
Were hard enough to make
The sun turn tail and
Tender enough to attract me
To his world of illusion
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