One of my good mates was telling me about this on Saturday night – I’d known his father was a Vietnam vet, with many “war stories” to tell (literally). His dad has returned to Vietnam a number of times to search for two fallen comrades who they had to leave behind, whilst under heavy fire.
Gordon Peterson (my friends father) has been haunted by this for close to 40 years – in the knowledge he “left some of his men behind”.
The Operation Aussies Home group visited Vietnam many times, with some discussion with former VC (Viet Cong) and locals to identify where the fallen soldiers had been buried. Gordon came home with new friendships, and old memories laid to rest – stating “I dunno why we were to were even fighting”.
Some success in the last few weeks, with the discovery of the remains of the two soldiers, who were returned to be laid to rest in Australia :
A remarkable and selfless Australian, Jim Bourke, and his dedicated Vietnam veteran team from Operation Aussies Home, represented here today by Jim, Gordon Peterson, Trevor Hagan and Clive Williams, and their band of veteran supporters, persisted tirelessly with their inquiries, research and advocacy, to compile insights and evidence, beyond the historical material and official records, to make it possible to get to where we are today.
The product of this shared sense of purpose, commitment and conviction, is the opportunity to finish unfinished business; to discharge in full our duty; to accomplish a mission more than 41 years in the making; to lay properly to rest two soldiers in the soil of their homeland, within the reach and reflections of their families, back amongst the mates whose thoughts and brotherly bond never left them or faded.
Let the final chapter read and record: two brave servicemen lost; now forever young; never forgotten; found, recovered and repatriated with great care and dignity; carried home by the hands of mateship; returned to those who love and were loved; honoured and laid to rest by a grateful nation; home at last, always remembered.
Here’s to you Gordon – and your mates. Very proud.