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RAAF Vietnam Veterans Association (Vic) ABN 34 550 672 219

NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 2009 www.raafvva.org.au RAAFVVA NEWSLETTER


The official journal of the RAAF Vietnam Veterans Association (Vic), a Sub-Branch of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia Victorian Branch Incorporated. (Reg. No. A0029247G. ABN 34 750 672 219) Patron: Air Vice Marshal E. M. Weller AM PRESIDENT

Nick LeRay-Meyer AM

Phone (03) 9386-6961 nicklm2@bigpond.com

IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT

Brendan Lynch

Phone (03) 9741-4157

VICE PRESIDENT

Lee Scully

Phone (03) 9827-8313

SECRETARY

Rick Holmes

PO Box 462 Ascot Vale Vic 3032 Phone (03) 9317-7304 rickh12@bigpond.com

TREASURER

Maree Jongkryg

PO Box 73 Melton Vic 3337 Phone (03) 9743-1273 beau.1@optusnet.com.au

WELFARE OFFICER

Lee Scully

Phone (03) 9827-8313

ASST SEC/MEMBERSHIP

Gareth Davis

Phone (03) 9878-7940 davis1@westnet.com.au

COMMITTEE MEMBER COMMITTEE MEMBER COMMITTEE MEMBER COMMITTEE MEMBER COMMITTEE MEMBER COMMITTEE MEMBER

Alan White Pieter Jongkryg Bob Brackin Andy Lapins Geoff Rose Neil Morgan

Phone (03) 9598-1007 Phone (03) 9743-1273 Phone (03) 9534-8683 Phone (03) 9511-4693 Phone (03) 9744-4212 Phone (03) 9687-8871

WEBMASTER bushranger@internode.on.net PUBLIC RELATIONS SPECIAL PROJECTS

Anthony (Tony) Pahl OAM Tony Wheal Graeme Dodd OAM

Phone (03) 5254-2738 Phone (03) 9852-1653

RAAF REGIONAL ADVOCACY, WELFARE AND PENSIONS OFFICERS Bill Wiltshire (Advocacy, Pensions & Welfare) Ron McMullen (Pensions & Welfare information only) Brendan and Pat Lynch (Welfare) David Taffe (Welfare & Pensions) Audrey Elliott (Welfare & Pensions) Rob Hart (Welfare) Lee and Ellen Scully (Welfare)

Melton Laverton Werribee Kilmore Wallan Broadford Melbourne Metro Area

Phone (03) 9746-9582 Phone (03) 9746-9582 Phone (03) 9741-4157 Phone (03) 5782-2779 Phone (03) 5783-1567 Phone (03) 5784-4096 Phone (03) 9827-8313

VETERANS’ CENTRES SUPPORTED BY RAAFVVA Western Suburbs Veterans and Services Centre Melbourne Veterans and Services Centre

Phone (03) 9746-9582 Phone (03) 9282-3518

Fax (03) 9746-9583 Fax (03) 9282-7854

DISCLAIMER The material, comments and/or extracts of articles appearing in the “RAAF VIETNAM VETERANS NEWSLETTER” is of a general nature only and neither purports to be, nor is intended to be, advice on any particular matter. No person should act on the basis of any material contained in the NEWSLETTER without considering, and if necessary, taking appropriate professional advice upon their circumstances. The RAAFVVA Committee, the authors and publisher expressly disclaim all and any liability to any person, in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by any such person in reliance, whether whole or partial, upon the whole or part of the contents of the “RAAFVVA NEWSLETTER”. Any member of the RAAFVVA, or other veteran organisation or any interested party may submit articles, letters, and advertisements for publication in the NEWSLETTER. The Committee and Publisher reserve the right to veto any such article, letter or advertisement. EDITOR: RAAFVVA Committee

PUBLISHER: Geoff Rose

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THE “PRESIDENT’S PIECE” Greetings! It has been a busy but interesting three months! For many of us the highlight was the news that the remains of FLGOFF Mike Herbert and PLTOFF Bob Carver had been positively located and identified. Thanks to the cooperation of the Vietnam Authorities, Mike and Bob were flown home, accompanied by relatives and an honour party from No 2 Squadron, by RAAF aircraft. On arrival at Richmond on 31 August, they were accorded a formal welcome home ceremony attended by senior politicians and RAAF officers, relatives, dignitaries and members of 2 Squadron and 2 Squadron Association. Bob was interred with due ceremony on 3rd September after a service at St Luke's Anglican Church Toowoomba (QLD). Mike was interred after a service at St Francis Xavier Cathedral in Adelaide on 7th September. Both services attracted large crowds and were accorded an RAAF aircraft flypast. While understanding the need of their respective families, in some way it was sad that having spent so much time together in the wreckage their final resting places are so far apart! For many of us, the "Closing of the Bracelet" ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Museum on 31st August provided an opportunity to pay our respects to the last Australian MIAs to be returned home. The Ceremony, attended by a sizeable crowd was both symbolic and moving. The Museum deserves our special thanks as does Jim Burke and his magnificent team whose unwavering dedication and efforts resulted in all Australian MIAs being located and returned home. On 18th August we commemorated Vietnam Veterans Day. Here in Melbourne we had two ceremonies. The first was at our plaque where some 60 attended to witness wreaths being laid by the RAAF Association as well our Association. Peter Ashley, on behalf of No 2 Squadron Association, delivered a short address on the recovery of Mike and Bob. Afterwards some 50, led by No 2 Squadron representatives (Ron Douglas and Peter Ashley), marched behind our banner to the Shrine for a well presented VVAA Ceremony. Later, over 50 members and guests attended a most enjoyable lunch at the Palmerston during which the bar tab was "topped up" by a most welcome contribution from Peter Colliver, President RAAF Association (Vic), who attended all of our activities on the day (demonstrating his continuing support for our Association). Photos from these activities are contained elsewhere in the Newsletter (with even more on the website version). For those who commemorated their Vietnam Service at other venues I trust you had an enjoyable and meaningful day. For those who didn't take time out to recall/revisit either their service or the colleagues from that campaign, remember time is passing all too quickly and a moment lost is lost forever!!! As briefly detailed elsewhere in the Newsletter and more extensively on our website, the RAAF Association (Vic) Foundation has established a Bursary for dependents of RAAFVVA members resident in Victoria. The Bursary will be administered by RAAFVVA. This is another important milestone in demonstrating RAAFA's support for us and is essential we 3


give it our erstwhile support. If you are aware of any dependent who requires or deserves assistance with education or vocational activities, check out the website and get an application in ASAP. Alternatively, contact one of our Welfare Officers and provide the details to him so that it can be followed up. In closing, for those who are interested in joining or rejoining the RAAF Association (a new informal title is "Air Force Association") but who are concerned at the annual membership cost, there is now a new membership category "Concurrent Membership"; annual cost $25 for anyone who is also a member of any RAAF unit/role/campaign association. For those who seek full membership, the 2010 fees have been reduced to $34 for Metropolitan members. Finally, for anyone who feels this reads like an advertisement for the Air Force Association. I guess in part it is because without our support that Association could well fade from view – which would be unfortunate for those serving or recently retired members who have yet to realise that they need the support of an active association who understands what their service entailed! Cheers

Nick NOTICE BOARD

AIR FORCE ASSOCIATION VIETNAM VETERANS BURSARY The Royal Australian Air Force Association (Vic) Foundation in conjunction with the Royal Australian Air Force Vietnam Veterans Association (Vic) is pleased to announce the establishment of the: AIR FORCE ASSOCIATION VIETNAM VETERANS BURSARY The annual Bursary, to be administered by the RAAF Vietnam Veterans Association (RAAFVVA), is intended to assist the children, grandchildren, adopted and foster children of primarily RAAF Vietnam Veterans who are enrolled, undertaking or are about to undertake recognised academic or vocational courses of education and training. The Bursary represents another facet of the assistance both Associations are delivering to former and serving RAAF members and their families. For more details, including application forms, see the "Bursary" page on our website; www.raafvva.org.au

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RAAFVVA CALENDAR OF EVENTS 2009 Monthly luncheons continue on the following dates:- 21st October and the 18th of November.

14th November – State Council, Tocumwal (Goulburn Valley)

Ex members of RTFV/35 Sqn (and ex 38 Sqn members) The last pages of this Newsletter have the latest information from Sqn Ldr David Falls regarding the official farewell ceremony for the DHC4 Caribou to be held at Townsville on 7th November.

RAAF Radschool Magazine www.eastcoastcool.com/radschool and follow the prompts to Vol 29. Also, let your mates know about the RAM and tell them, if they wish to be advised by email whenever a new version is available, to contact Trevor Benneworth on email address:- radschool@yahoo.com

Men’s Shed in Melton Men who reside in the Shire of Melton are invited to attend the newly established Melton Men’s Shed. It is a place for men to come together and capture and share their skills and experiences, to work on projects that benefit the local community and to promote men's health and well being. For more information phone 9747 7200, or check out the website at:www.melton.vic.gov.au/mensshed

OUT AND ABOUT RAAFVVA Luncheon Wednesday, June 17th was the best attendance so far! It was our first gathering at the Melbourne RSL’s new premises and a total of 26 members and guests arrived at the new ‘Duckboard Club’, conveniently located in Windsor Place, just behind the Windsor Hotel. Many took the opportunity to explore the newly renovated, three-storey building. The rooms are not large, but present a cosy, welcoming atmosphere, ideal for any group of ex-military types seeking a suitable place to rendezvous. Everyone agreed the hour or two catching up with old mates, or meeting new ones, was well worth the trip into town.

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2009 Badge Week Badge selling was conducted over a split period with members setting up stalls in Sunbury on 6th and 7th, Highpoint 13th and 14th and Doncaster on 15th and 16th of August. Despite tough economic times people continued to be very generous in their support of Vietnam Veterans. This was our most successful year!

Kevil O’Neil, Andy Lapins and Gareth Davis at Westfield Doncaster

Rick Holmes, Nick LeRay-Meyer and Ron Douglas at Highpoint.

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Nola Rose waiting for more customers at Sunbury Square Members who participated in Badge Week 2009 were: Nick LeRay-Meyer, Rick and Golda Holmes, Pieter Jongkryg, Ron Douglas, Gareth Davis, Alan White, Bob Brackin, Kevin O’Neil, Andy Lapins, and Geoff and Nola Rose. “THANK YOU” - your assistance is very much appreciated, and you can be satisfied in the knowledge that your unselfish action resulted in a significant boost to our Welfare Fund.

Long Tan Memorial Ceremony Five RAAFVVA members and their partners joined a 100 or so other Vietnam Veterans, their partners and visitors to witness the annual Long Tan Memorial Ceremony conducted by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Lodge at the Ivalda Masonic Centre. The Ceremony was based on the traditional parading of a vacant chair (symbolising those who have made the supreme sacrifice) draped with the Australian Flag, a bayonet (recovered from the battle field the next day and presented to the Lodge by Dave Sabben (decorated for bravery at Long Tan) and a wreath. Eighteen candles were extinguished one by one as each name of the 18 soldiers who fell on the battlefield was called out. The Ceremony concluded with a lament played by a Scottish piper, the Last Post and Raus.

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The vacant chair symbolises those who have made the supreme sacrifice.

18 candles surrounded a replica of the Long Tan Cross. The ceremony was followed by dinner and a guest speaker - Colonel John James. Colonel James served as an Australian Army infantry officer for 26 years, including leading a platoon in South 8


Vietnam, serving in Papua New Guinea, Canada and Germany, and commanding a mechanised infantry battalion. He left the Army in 1991 as a Chief of Staff of the 3rd Division to take up a civilian appointment. He is now retired.

The five RAAF Vietnam Veterans who attended - (Left to Right), Peter Rayment, Kevin O'Neill, Nick LeRay-Meyer, Peter Ashley and Joseph (Chick) Mercieca.

RTFV/35 Squadron Plaque for the National Vietnam Veterans Museum

Following the “Closing the Bracelets� ceremony on 31st August, John Sambrooks, President of RTFV/35Sqn Association, presented Gary Parker, Museum President, with a plaque for display in 9


the RAAF Section of the Museum. John travelled from Brisbane for the occasion and also took the opportunity to ‘purchase a brick’ at the Museum on behalf of the RTFV/35Sqn Association.

VIETNAM VETERANS DAY

RAAFVVA members and guests gathered by the RAAF Vietnam Plaque at the Shrine’s ‘Garden of Reflection’ for a short ceremony prior to the main Vietnam Veterans’ Day commemoration

A pause after wreath laying: Peter Ashley (Vice President 2 Squadron Association), Peter Colliver (RAAFA Vic President,) and RAAFVVA members John Mitchell and Ray Appleford 10


Peter Ashley delivered a short address before we moved to the Shrine forecourt for the March and main Commemoration Ceremony.

Everyone was in step (almost) as Pieter Jongkryg and Neil Morgan, proudly carried the RAAFVVA Banner towards the Shrine. The contingent was lead by ex 2 Squadron members, Ron Douglas and Peter Ashley, along with Alan White, ex 1OSU. 11


The RAAFVVA Banner remained in clear view on the steps in front of the Shrine, (unlike last year). On completion of the ceremonies at the Shrine some 50 members and guests headed down to the Palmerston Hotel for the traditional lunchtime get together.

Seated at Table 56, L-R:- Cheryl Hersey, Alan White, Robert Walsh, Les Pascoe, Peter Rayment and Sue Mercieca. (Robert, an ex Army Vietnam Veteran, travelled down from Echuca with his mate Les) 12


"CLOSE THE BRACELETS!"

After all Australian combat forces were withdrawn from South Vietnam in 1972, four Army and two RAAF remained behind; officially listed as "Missing in Action" (MIA). I believe it is fair to say that most Vietnam Veterans and the families of the MIAs thought our missing comrades would never be found and returned home. While the task seemed so daunting and almost hopeless we hadn't counted on the enthusiasm and dedication of LTCOL Jim Bourke AM MG and his team of "Operation Aussie Home" (OAH). As recounted in an address by Bob Elworthy, Victorian State President of the Vietnam Veterans Association, Jim's team, initially without any major support, certainly not from the Government of the time, painstakingly but steadfastly pushed ahead in their quest to find our six colleagues. Later, the team was supplemented by Government funded specialists and support personnel. In April 2007, with the assistance of the Vietnam Government and local villagers (in some instances former enemies) the OAH team had its first success when the remains of LCPL Richard Parker and PVT Peter Gillson, former members of 1RAR, were located on the battlefield where they had lost their lives on 8th November 1965. Brought home in June 2007 they were each accorded a ceremonial "Welcome Home" and burial with military honours they so richly deserved. Unknown to most, on the arrival of the aircraft bearing their caskets; the first pair of Bracelets at the Museum were closed. On a chilly August 31st 2009 morning, Gary Parker, the President of the National Vietnam Veterans Museum at Phillip Island, in a voice full of emotion, explained to a gathering of some 150 the symbolism of the two beautifully carved bracelets, each nestling in a small open silklined box, centrally placed between four other identical, but closed, boxes. The boxes, one for each of the six Australians MIA, were intended to be both a visible yet spiritual symbol that even though the six were missing, they were not forgotten. Unlike the US practice, where a near relative of the MIA agreed to wear the bracelet until either the MIA was accounted for or death intervened, the National Vietnam Veterans Museum elected to retain all six bracelets at what is for many Vietnam Veterans, their spiritual home.

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FLGOFF Mike Herbert's Bracelet By the end of 2008, only the crew of Canberra bomber Magpie 91, FLGOFF Mike Herbert (Pilot) and PLTOFF Bob Carver (Navigator), remained unaccounted for. Only two bracelets remained open! My mobile phone signalled an incoming SMS. Opening it I saw it was from RAAF Base Richmond with the words that I and some 150 other RAAF and Army Veterans, guests and friends, gathered at the National Vietnam Veterans Museum, were waiting for: "Nick, the boys are home! Museum)".

Close the Bracelets!"

Gary Parker gave the command!

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Dave Gardner (Director RAAF


WGCDR Warren Madsen, from the RAAF Museum and SQNLDR Graham Henry (Retd), the Victorian State President of No 2 Squadron RAAF Association, stepped forward in unison and gently closed the last two bracelet boxes.

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Thanks to the initial efforts of Jim Bourke (and all of those who later supported his endeavour) and despite almost overwhelming odds, the mortal remains of Mike Herbert and Bob Carver were finally home. Following the recital of "The Ode", Padre Laurie Dawson, himself a Vietnam Veteran, noted, in an eloquent and most appropriate address, "...The immediate sharp grief that we may have felt on the loss of our Missing in Action personnel is long gone, to be replaced with a sad acceptance of reality. They, like us, have long since been consigned to the historical records by the population at large. But, to their credit, many have kept alive their memory through the maintenance of these memorial bracelets. Today, closure is achieved on another aspect of our Vietnam experience. The bracelets are all closed. The mission is successfully concluded. There is something special about coming home to Australia. We owe our deceased nothing less than their own special homecoming....." Later, Mike and Bob were deservedly accorded funerals with full military honours within the care of their extended families.

We Did Remember Them and Will Not Forget Them On behalf of the RAAF Vietnam Veterans Association (Vic), we salute LTCOL Jim Bourke AM MG, as instigator and leader of "Operation Aussies Home", and all those who have worked so hard and with such dedication and diligence to bring all our colleagues home; and extend to Gary Parker and his team at the National Vietnam Veterans Museum our sincere appreciation for the manner in which they conducted the final "Closing of The Bracelets" ceremony. You did us all proud!!!! Nick LeRay-Meyer AM President RAAF Vietnam Veterans Association (Vic) and Mike Herbert's No 1 AFTS initial Vampire flying instructor

(See page 23 for the “HOME AT LAST!” article, which describes Mike and Bob’s Repatriation and Funeral Ceremonies.)

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DID YOU KNOW? RAAF Transport Flight Vietnam/35 Squadron Veterans Qualify for US Air Medal RAAFVVA member and former 35 Squadron pilot, Mike Lewino, presented the combined applications of 77 Vietnam Veterans – ex-members of RTFV/35 Sqn – to US Defence Attaché, Colonel A J Britschgi, USAF, at the US Embassy in Canberra on 4th August, 2009. The US Air Medal was originally offered to all aircrew members of ‘Wallaby Airlines’ some 40 years ago but it was then against government policy to accept foreign awards. The policy changed several years ago and a group of veterans banded together to see if the offer might be reactivated. Working through the Veterans of Foreign Wars Association in the USA – the equivalent of our RSL – a Bill was passed through the US Congress and approved by then President George W Bush. This led to the presentation of the US Air Medal to 105 veterans by the US Ambassador at a ceremony at the Australian War Memorial on 04 April 2008. At that time exactly 100 veterans who qualified for the award had not been located. An extended effort to find them continued and to collect the data necessary to confirm their eligibility. Finally the books were closed on 31 July this year, when it was accepted that after 40+ years, some had passed beyond location. The application of the 77 included 62 living veterans and the families of 15 who had passed away.

From Left: Colonel Britschgi, Wing Commander (Active Reserve) Brian Young (who provided much of the assistance to the project by obtaining access to the RAAF History Records of RTFV/35 Sqn and extracting details of 17 veterans who had lost their personal records), Yeoman Chief Petty Officer Jennifer Barnes (the Embassy officer responsible for processing medal applications), and Mike Lewino.

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Certificate of Appreciation

The Melbourne based printing company On Demand – Australia’s biggest digital printer – kindly donates their services to print the hard-copy of the RAAFVVA newsletter and on 19th July the company was presented with a RAAFVVA Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of their ongoing generosity and support. Nick Le-Ray Meyer presented the Certificate to On Demand CEO, Bruce Peddlesden, and his associate, Con Maniatis, at their Port Melbourne offices. On Demand can satisfy any printing need, so if you have a requirement please remember their support for us and check out the website:- www.on-demand.com.au

RAAFVVA member, Geoff Rose with ON Demand’s Bruce Peddlesden and Con Maniatis as they accept the Certificate of Appreciation from Nick le-Ray Meyer

Low Cow Cost Internet Connection Technical Aid to the Disabled (TAD) Australia with internet provider ISPOne have negotiated a partnership to provide aged, veterans and people with disabilities throughout Australia with access to low cost internet service. This will enable people who have a Disability Service Pension, Aged Pension or DVA Entitlement Card to go online at a reduced cost of $6.60 per month, including: • Unlimited Download; Unlimited Time On (4 Hour Session Limit without penalty, and 20 minute Idle Time Out) • No Annual Fee • $46.00 Once off Connection Fee (Non Refundable) • Local Call anywhere in Australia • One email address, e.g. xxxxxx@tadaust.or.au People are requested to phone 1300 735 439; or can access TAD website for details: www.tadaustconnect.org.au 18


HEALTH and WELFARE Suicide awareness - there is something you can do! Are you concerned about the welfare of a mate or someone in your family? Current and former serving members of the Australian Defence Force are some of the most resilient people in the country but their mental health can suffer, just like the rest of the Australian population. An initiative of VVCS – Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service, Operation Life workshops can give you the “know how” to recognise when a mate or family member needs help, and the skills to help them. A Welfare Officer for an Ex-Service Organisation recently attended an Operation Life workshop saying, “It’s given me the confidence to approach someone who I am concerned about and to ask the relevant questions. You don’t have to save them yourself––just put them in touch with others who can help.” If you know someone who is doing it tough or going through a significant life change, Operation Life workshops can help you help them. Changing life situations, such as the loss of a loved one, retirement, financial problems, discharge from the Defence Force or physical illness, can affect someone’s ability to cope. Changes in everyday behaviour, losing interest in things previously enjoyed, taking less care of themselves than usual and engaging in risky or self-destructive behaviours can all be signs of a person at risk. Most people with thoughts of suicide signal their distress and invite help. Often these opportunities are missed, dismissed or avoided - leaving people more alone and at greater risk. Operation Life workshops can help. ‘SAFE TALK’ is a half-day presentation on identifying at-risk behaviours and accessing support. It can help members of the veteran community to recognise someone who might be having thoughts of suicide and to link them in with appropriate help. ‘SAFE TALK’ workshops are currently being offered across Australia, so get some mates together and register your interest. To register or find out more about Operation Life workshops, contact the VVCS on 1800 011 046 (during normal business hours).

Medicines Advice and Therapeutics Education Service (MATES) Program The following is text from the MATES website: www.veteransmates.net.au and provides an overview of the MATES program: "Factors such as the increased use of medicines and advancing age can lead to adverse drug events and hospitalisation through confusion and misadventure with medicines. Being aware of these factors and of the high usage of medicines within the veteran community, the Department has developed a new quality use of medicines program, the Veterans' Medicines Advice and Therapeutics Education Services (Veterans' MATES) to improve the use of medicines in the veteran community. Veterans' MATES uses data from prescription claims to identify members of the veteran community who may be at risk of medication misadventure and provides information which may assist in improving the management of their medicines. The program puts veterans' general 19


practitioners at the centre of the program and aims to build a team approach to veterans' medicines use by including veterans, their carers, their community pharmacists, other medical specialists and health practitioners. An important facet of the program is to inform and raise awareness of a veteran's chronic medical conditions and to encourage improved communication between veterans and members of their healthcare team. The Veterans' MATES program is delivered in the form of clinical modules every three to four months. Each module focuses on a particular aspect of medicines management." An e-mail was received today from DVA through National advising of the following which is in line with the last paragraph of the overview of MATES above: "MATES Module 19, "Do your part to care for your heart' will be mailed in July to veteran patients who have been dispensed a combination of medicines which suggest they may have heart failure. The corresponding therapeutic brief to treating LMOs & the identified regular dispensing pharmacist will go out at the same time". All members are actively encouraged to view the full list of MATES topics on the website at www.veteransmates.net.au as there may be a health/medicine issue you have that can be resolved through the MATES system.

Robotic assisted prostatectomy DVA have received a number of requests for robotic assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy. In 2006, the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC – the body which advises the Government about items on the Medicare Benefits Schedule) evaluated the use of robotic assisted surgery compared to open radical prostatectomy in terms of safety, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. The MSAC review concluded that there was uncertainty about the comparative cost-effectiveness of robotic laparoscopic surgery as a shorter period of hospitalisation does not offset the additional costs involved. MSAC also noted that there was insufficient evidence on long-term outcomes compared to an open radical prostatectomy, that is the remission rates associated with incomplete removal of the cancerous tissue. Open radical prostatectomy is still considered the “gold standard” for this type of procedure. Consequently, DVA does not accept financial responsibility for robotic assisted surgery, whether requested by a doctor or hospital - except in rare cases where significant clinical evidence has been provided to support its use as the only viable treatment option. Any request for exceptional circumstances to support the funding of robotic surgery is considered on a case-by-case basis and should be submitted to DVA for approval prior to the surgery taking place. This request must be made by the treating doctor. DVA will not fund robotic laparoscopic prostatectomy on the basis of veteran’s or surgeon’s personal preference for this procedure. If the robotic assisted surgery is provided without DVA approval - either not obtaining it or proceeding having been rejected by DVA - then DVA will only fund the surgery at the equivalent DVA fee for the open radical prostatectomy. In terms of requests from hospitals, DVA will not fund requests for the same reasons outlined above. DVA’s decision in this matter reflects a Departmental position to fund the requested treatment. It is not a direction to the treating doctor on whether to undertake the surgery, which is clearly a medical judgement.

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RAAF Veteran’s Residence Trust Are you aware that there is an RAAF Veteran’s Residence Trust? Well, there is and it is very active. We learned about it when AVM Alan Reed AO (a RAAFVVA member) and his team delivered an address at a RAAF Association delegates meeting. The Trust, set up initially from a “bounty” paid to the Australian Government after an RAAF Sunderland crew (the Captain of which delivered a short blow by blow of the actual encounter at the same meeting) “captured” a German vessel on the high seas during WWII. The modest bounty, given to the RAAF for its exclusive use for members, has now grown into millions administered by the Trust to purchase and maintain a number of residential properties (mainly one and two bed room self-contained apartments) throughout Australia that are made available to needy ex RAAF veterans at very low rentals. John Negus, of the Trust has been in contact with the RAAFVVA Welfare Officers offering several apartments that have recently become available. So if you know of a colleague who may be finding times and accommodation a little tough, contact Lee Scully or Brendan Lynch and they can co-ordinate with John Negus in the event that there is a vacancy.

SECRETARY'S SNIPPETS Hi all I attended the “Closing of the Bracelets” ceremony for MIA’s Michael Herbert and Robert Carver at the Vietnam Veterans National Museum at Phillip Island on the 31st August. A moving ceremony timed to coincide with the landing of their remains on Australian soil at RAAF Base Richmond NSW. More details elsewhere in this newsletter and on the website. Suffice to say all who attended some 150 odd were quite moved. Thanks to Museum Staff and President Gary Parker for pulling it together at short notice. Badge Week was a great success. Again Sunbury starred, thanks to Geoff and Nola Rose. Details at the AGM. Many thanks to our resolute volunteers who shall remain nameless at this point (space precludes). Welfare coffers have been boosted. A few words of caution to you all. I am still getting bounce backs on some email addresses. If you wish to keep up to date with info let me know if any of your personal details change i.e. addresses email or phone numbers etc. I am psychic to a point but! Rob Hart update please. RAAFVVA Bursary. The RAAFVVA, thanks to the RAAF Association now has a Bursary, again details on the website. Lastly, I am being totally inundated with emails with huge attachments, so is our President. It is nice to get 2 and 3 megabyte emails with photos that include all sorts of historical significance but it is impossible for us to down load. I/we have a monthly quota and then it goes into dream time. So please all back off. If you need to send something of major significance let me know by email and then send the material/gist of it via CD. Rick

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THE PADRE’S PAGE INSPIRATION Ruth Graham (Wife of Dr Billy Graham) in her book “The Legacy of a Pack Rat” writes..... “They splashed and they flopped, those aspiring wind surfers. Day after day we chronicled their struggles. It looked simple enough; a surfboard, a detachable sail with a length of rope tied to it, wind and, of course, instruction....” The following summer we discovered a few surfers who had more or less mastered the art. They skimmed about with surprising skill even on rough days. One had so much confidence that he even sailed with his jacket on, manoeuvring his craft skilfully wherever he wished to go. He was so cocky. I kept hoping he would flop just once, but he had learned well. He was, we discovered, the instructor. Like wind surfing, the Christian life is simple but not easy. We who are older in the Christian walk and those who, through experience, have leaned that status of instructor should be quick to encourage, and quick to help the one who has fallen. We, who have not yet mastered the art of Christian living, need to keep carefully studying our Book of instructions, listening attentively when our Instructor speaks, and promptly following His instructions. Alexander Whyte, a famous preacher of Edinburgh, once said: “The perseverance of the Saints consists in ever new beginnings”. It is never too late to begin. Have a good day. As ever, (Rev) George G. Ashworth, OAM

VALE – RAAF Vietnam Veterans Athol John HATTEN 35 Sqn – Oct 70 to Jul 71 22nd August 2009 James (Arthur) Thomas LOWE AFC 9 Sqn – Mar 70 to Mar 71 23rd August 2009 Frederick William HEUKE 35 Sqn – Oct 68 to Oct 69 12 September 2009

LEST WE FORGET 22


HOME AT LAST!

Monday 31st August 2009 realised a sight that most RAAF Vietnam Veterans, especially those who had served with No 2 Squadron, never expected to see; the caskets of FLGOFF Mike Herbert and PLTOFF Bob Carver being ceremonially transferred from the C130 that had brought them from Hanoi to the tarmac at RAAF Base Richmond.

Bob's casket leaves the aircraft, following Mike's * (*Copyright Photos of the Repatriation Ceremony provided by Ms Jeanette Hayden – whose late husband Trevor was a

member of the duty crew who saw Magpie 91 off on November 3rd 1970)

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The procession nears the ceremonial site *

They await the Padres *

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The Padres *

Mike and Bob depart RAAF Richmond to be received at home by their families *

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Along with the dignitaries, honour guard and former squadron members crowding the tarmac to witness their return and resplendent in its operational paint scheme, was the sole surviving flying Canberra (now operated by the Temora Air Museum).

Starting No 1 to depart RAAF Richmond *

Thanks to the initial inspiration and dedication of LTCOL Jim Bourke AM MG and his team at "Operation Aussies Home" and finally with the assistance of RAAF and other specialists using both modern equipment and painstaking hand by hand search, the wreckage of Magpie 91, lost in flight after completion of a bombing sortie on the night of 3rd November 1970, was located and the remains of Mike and Bob recovered. Testament to the reputation of Australian forces in Vietnam, the search teams were assisted by local villagers as well as Vietnam Government agencies. That Government also expedited the return of the remains, including a formal ceremony at Hanoi where the two caskets, accompanied by an RAAF honour guard and relatives of Mike and Bob were reverently placed aboard the RAAF C130. Following the formal "Repatriation Ceremony" at RAAF Base Richmond, a ceremony which had previously been conducted for each of the four Army MIAs that "Operation Aussies Home" had located for return to Australia (an enormous feat), Mike and Bob were accorded funerals with military honours. On Thursday 3rd September, a funeral service for Bob was held at St Luke's Anglican Church in Toowoomba (Queensland) attended by hundreds of relatives, friends, former colleagues and current members of No 2 Squadron and RSL and Vietnam Veterans Association members. Flags in Toowoomba were flown at half-mast and the commitment ceremony was conducted in the Church forecourt as a solitary F111 passed overhead in a final salute. Bob's was interred in the grave of his parents.

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Photo by Department of Defence

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Bob's casket leaves St Lukes. (Department of Defence photo)

Mourners farewell Bob (Copyright photo provided by Ms Jeanette Hayden)

Mike was accorded a similar funeral service in Adelaide on 7th September, before a private internment. The Archbishop of Adelaide conducted a Pontifical Celebrated Mass at the Cathedral 28


Church of St Francis Xavier, attended by the SA Governor and Premier, the Minister of Defence and the Chief of Air Force as well as hundreds of relatives, former squadron colleagues and Vietnam Veterans.

(Photos of Mike's funeral provided by Tony Pahl AOM)

With flags throughout the City of Adelaide at half mast, Mike's cortege left the Cathedral escorted by an RAAF honour guard and band with veterans and students from his former school (Sacred Heart College) lining the roadway as a solitary F111 passed over in salute.

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ON THE LIGHTER SiDE Old men may walk slowly, BUT they think FAST An elderly man in Queensland had owned a large property for several years. He had a dam in one of the lower paddocks where he had planted mango and avocado trees. The dam had been set up for swimming and he also had some picnic tables placed there, in the shade of the fruit trees. One evening, the old farmer decided to go down to the dam to look it over. He hadn't been there for a while, so grabbed a ten litre bucket to bring back some fruit. As he neared the dam, he heard voices shouting and laughing with glee. He saw it was a bunch of young women skinny-dipping in his dam. He made the women aware of his presence, and they all went to the deep end. One of the women shouted to him, 'We're not coming out until you leave!' The old man frowned, 'I didn't come down here to watch you ladies swim naked or make you get out of the dam, naked.' Holding the bucket up he said, 'I'm here to feed the crocodiles!’ Moral: Old men may walk slowly, but they can still think fast.

It was fun being a baby boomer - until now. Some artists of the 60's are revising their hits. They include;

Hermans Hermits - Mrs Brown you've got a lovely walker. Bee Gees How can you mend a broken hip? Roberta Flack First time ever I forgot your face. Paul Simon 50 ways to lose your liver. The Commodores - Once,twice,three times to the bathroom. Procol Harem A whiter shade of hair. Leo Sayer You make me feel like napping. Abba Denture Queen Helen Reddy I am woman hear me snore. Leslie Gore It's my procedure and I'll cry if I want to. And my favourite... Willy Nelson On the commode again.

Shortest Fairy Tale Once upon a time, a guy asked a girl 'Will you marry me?' The girl said, 'NO!' And the guy lived happily ever after and rode motorcycles and went fishing and hunting and played golf a lot and drank beer and scotch and had tons of money in the bank and left the toilet seat up and - passed wind whenever he wanted. The end.

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THE VIETNAM VETERANS ASSOCIATION VICTORIAN BRANCH (Incorporated) IS A REGISTERED CHARITY. DONATIONS The VVAA Victorian Branch is a registered charity which means that all of the 30 sub-branches can raise funds from public donations and provide Tax deductable receipts for all donations over $2, providing the funds are used for welfare. Some VVAA members have already adopted our Association as their family charity. All that is needed is to make out a cheque payable to the Sub-branch Welfare Fund and forward it to the Treasurer who will provide the Tax deductable receipt by return mail. Even the smallest donation is very much appreciated. BEQUESTS AND LEGACIES Making a Will is good planning. It provides you and those for whom you care with peace of mind, ensures the security of you family, and enables bequests to be made to those charities that represent your ongoing interests and concerns. Bequests and Legacies are gifts of specifically identified possessions or specified sums of money gifted to a person, a group of people or an organization. If the VVAA is your charity then the correct title of the charity is Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia Victorian Branch Welfare Patriotic Fund Please consider our Association as a charity. Remember, one day the person in need of assistance may be you or a member of your family. VVCS - VETERANS and VETERANS FAMILIES COUNSELLING SERVICE (A Service Founded by the Vietnam Veterans) Normal Hours: 86408700 Crisis Line (after hours) 1800 011 046 DVA VICTORIA Normal Hours: 9284 6000 Country/Regional: 1800 555 254 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------In Hospital or Convalescing at Home? Like us to know about it and/or have someone to visit to assist or just chat? Name:…………………………………………………………………………………..….......... Address:……………………………………………………………………………………........ Preferred Contact details:……..………………………………………………………….......... Post or Email your request to the Secretary or give him a call on 9317 7304 and we will try and arrange a visit on your behalf.

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Association (Vic) SEPTEMBER 2009 www.raafvva.org.au ABN 34 550 672 219 RAAFVVA NEWSLETTER

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