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

NEWSLETTER December 2012 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

Lee Scully

Phone (03) 9827-8313

IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT

Nick LeRay-Meyer AM

Phone (03) 9386-6961

VICE PRESIDENT

Gareth Davis

Phone (03) 9878-7940

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 maree.jongkryg@bigpond.com

WELFARE OFFICER

Lee Scully

Phone (03) 9827-8313

ASST SEC/MEMBERSHIP

Gareth Davis

Phone (03) 9878-7940 garkaydavis@bigpond.com

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

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

Phone (03) 9598-1007 Phone (03) 9743-1273 Phone (03) 5261-2630 Phone (03) 9511-4693 Phone (03) 9372-7709 Phone (03) 9687-8871 Phone (03) 9583-1053

WEBMASTER SPECIAL PROJECTS

Anthony (Tony) Pahl OAM Nick LeRay-Meyer AM

bushranger@internode.on.net Phone (03) 9386-6961

RAAF REGIONAL ADVOCACY, WELFARE AND PENSIONS OFFICERS Bill Wiltshire (Advocacy, Pensions & Welfare) Ron McMullen (Pensions & Welfare - information only) David Taffe (Welfare & Pensions) Lee and Ellen Scully (Welfare) Gill Coughlan (Welfare) Andy Lapins (Welfare) Alan White

Melton Laverton Kilmore Melbourne Metro Area Melbourne Area Melbourne Area Melbourne Area

Phone (03) 9746-9582 Phone (03) 9746-9582 Phone (03) 5782-2779 Phone (03) 9827-8313 Phone 040 850 3986 Phone (03) 9511-4693 Phone (03) 9598-1007

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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PRESIDENT’S REPORT Greetings! Another year flies by, with a significant milestone reached of 50 years since the commencement of the ADF’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Thanks to everyone who participated in the anniversary commemoration activities during August 2012. Acknowledgement and particular thanks go to our Australian Vietnamese community for their continued support for our veterans in this area. Your Association has worked progressively during the year to complete the necessary and varied administrative processes for our transition in 2013, as the (RAAF) Vietnam Veterans Branch of the Air Force Association (Victorian Division). As previously outlined and advised, this transfer will retain our identity as Vietnam veterans and strengthen our RAAF links, while providing more financial support and stability for our members and their families. We now have three (3) representatives holding positions on the Board of Management of the Association. Exciting times await in 2013! Let me stress that, however, we will retain our links and input with the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia (Victoria) as a RAAF Sub-branch, until the foreshadowed eventual closure of that Association. The minority of members who voted against the transition to the Air Force Association, Life Members and all members of the 2013 Executive/Committee of the Sub-branch will continue their membership of the VVAA (Victoria) until that time. It follows that we will now need two (2) distinct Committees of Management for the existing RAAF Sub-branch, and new Branch of the Air Force Association. Nominations for Executive and Committee positions can be made to the Secretary, and should be lodged prior to the Annual General Meetings, scheduled for Sunday 10 th February 2013. Details of the AGM Agenda are on next page of this Newsletter. (Let me now stand back to avoid the rush!!). Thanks again to our industrious Executive/Committee members and their patient partners/families, who have safely steered our transition to the Air Force Association in Victoria, while continuing to guard the wide and varied requirements of our Association. In closing, on behalf of my hard-working associates, and myself please accept our best wishes for a happy and safe Festive Season. Similar wishes also go to the RAAF people on ADF deployment overseas – may they stay safe and enjoy a quick return home to Australia. I hope the 2013 year is a good one for all of our members and their families. Best wishes,

Lee President

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NOTICE BOARD

RAAFVVA and VV Branch of AFA ANNUAL GENERAL MEETINGS 10th February 2013 Annual General Meetings of the RAAF Vietnam Veterans Association and Vietnam Veterans Branch of the Air Force Association will be held on Sunday 10th February 2013 commencing at 1400 hours. The venue is the RAAF Association Headquarters (Victorian Air Forces' Centre), 2436 Camberwell Road, East Hawthorn, Vic 3123. Any financial member who wishes to raise an item of general business is requested to notify the Secretary prior to the AGMs. All committee positions in both Associations are open for nomination from any financial member of the Association prior to 31st January 2013. Nominations for other than Executive Committee positions will be accepted up to the election of office bearers. Members may nominate themselves without having to have another member second the nomination. Nomination Forms are available from the Secretary. A light lunch of finger food will be provided from 1300 hrs (prior to commencement of the AGMs). On completion of the AGMs there will be free drinks for those attending. It is a good opportunity to have a mini reunion.

AGENDA 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

11. 12. 13. 14.

Opening – ODE President’s welcome and general announcements Presentation of Air Force Association Bursary Certificates Attendance Register Apologies Acceptance of previous Minutes Business arising from those Minutes Financial report for year ending 31st December 2012 Correspondence General Business  Membership report for previous year and as at the AGM – RAAFVVAA (Vic) Sub-Branch and Vietnam Veterans Branch AFA (Vic)  Badge Week Fundraising and donation recognition  RAAFVVA Transition as a Vietnam Veterans Branch to the AFA President's Report and questions from the floor Election of Office Bearers – RAAFVVAA (Vic) Sub-Branch and Vietnam Veterans Brach AFA (Vic) Honours and Awards Closure

Rick Holmes Secretary 4


AIR FORCE ASSOCIATION VIETNAM VETERANS BURSARY 2013 *CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS IS - 31st January, 2013* The Royal Australian Air Force (Vic) Foundation in conjunction with the Royal Australian Air Force Vietnam Veterans Association (Vic) has established an annual Bursary for eligible dependents. The annual Bursary, 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. Eligibility  The child, adopted child or grandchild of a person with operational service, or three or more year’s continuous full time service, as a member of the Australian Air Force.  A stepchild or foster child is eligible, if they have resided with or been financially supported by the veteran step parent or foster parent, for five of the last ten years.  Under the age of 25 when applying unless exceptional circumstances, related to the veteran’s service, exist.  Enrolled in (or planning to enrol in) any recognized educational or training course.  Any activity or representation associated with any recognized educational or training course. Note: 1. Applicants may apply separately or be nominated by any member of the RAAF Vietnam Veterans Association. 2. When completing the Application Form, please ensure you advise the educational or training course you are undertaking (or planning to undertake). 3. Previous scholarship winners are entitled to reapply. More details, including application forms, on "Bursary" page of our website: www.raafvva.org.au *CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS IS - 31st January, 2013*

MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL – 2013 Members transferring to the Vietnam Veterans Branch of the AFA would have received a Membership Letter and RAAFA Renewal Form in early November. Those who chose to remain with the RAAFVVA will also receive their Renewal Form through the mail (unlike previous years, when it was included with the December Newsletter). Fees are due on 1st January 2013. *Associate and Second Members please disregard your letter from AFA requesting $25 Renewal Subscription. The actual amount for your membership is yet to be decided and a new letter will be forwarded from the AFA once the issue is resolved. 5


RAAFVVA Monthly Luncheon – Back to Wednesdays only Monthly luncheons will revert to the third Wednesday of each month. Venue remains the very convenient Mail Exchange Hotel – 688 Bourke Street, (Corner of Bourke and Spencer St, directly opposite Southern Cross Station).

Rick posts a general reminder each month to members on email, but please always check the Blog on RAAFVVA website for the latest information.

*RAAFVVA member, Dan Nebauer, offers discount to all current and ex ADF members.

Dan has specialized in Asian travel for more than 23 years, but assures his experienced staff will cater for all travel needs - international and/or domestic. 6


OUT AND ABOUT RAAFVVA Lunches at the Mail Exchange proved popular throughout the year, with numbers averaging from low to mid teens. It’s always a pleasure to welcome new faces, as occurred during September when two of John Elliot’s mates, Bob ‘Dusty’ Rhodes and Alan Alcock, travelled across from Ballarat to enjoy the day.

John and Carolyn Smith caught the train in from Geelong for the November lunch. Stewart James, who recently moved to Croydon, from Bendigo, attended for the first time, and it was good to see Mal Walker again. Directly opposite Southern Cross Station, and in the same building as the new Melbourne RSL, the Mail Exchange Hotel is our most convenient venue so far. The warm and welcoming atmosphere, good food, and reasonable prices are bound to ensure it remains the preferred location for our future monthly gatherings. Looking forward to seeing you all there again next year! 7


Back to NVVM Day, Phillip Island – Sunday 18th November Details of the official ceremony and other activities are included in Rick’s ‘Secretary Snippets’

However, the evening before Museum Day, some members and wives gathered at the Cowes RSL, for a ‘round table’ discussion.

Latest addition to the Museum: the old girl stands proudly on display. She’s held up pretty well, considering her tough life – so many long and stressful days. However, a new face-lift, bit of a touch-up here and there, and she’s bound to look like a new model... almost as good as Gold(a)! 8


Congratulations, after receiving the unencumbered ‘Certificate of Title’ for the Museum’s land. For those yet to visit the Museum, there is an area dedicated to the RAAF experience in Vietnam. Some of the exhibits are pictured below.

As mentioned elsewhere in this newsletter the NVVM has been granted clear title over the land on which the museum sits, however, as a not-for-profit organisation there is no ongoing funding. The ‘Buy-a-Slab’ campaign is for maintenance and development of the Museum. 2012 saw the completion of Stage 2 of the Museum extension, being the completion of concreting the floor, construction of storage racks in the workshop and an extension of the mezzanine through to the rear display area. This has allowed acceleration of the Canberra Bomber and Wessex Helicopter Restoration Projects. Work continues, and there is always a need to raise funds. Please consider donating to the Museum by copying and completing the following form. A tax-deductible receipt will be issued for each donation. 9


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DID YOU KNOW?

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Hi, Everyone. I'm involved with the Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk currently under construction in Seymour, Victoria, near Puckapunyal. We are a group of volunteers who have been working for several years now to construct a special place to commemorate the service of Australian Vietnam Veterans. We are finding that veterans still aren't aware of what we are achieving, or that our Opening of The Wall is coming up on the 9th of March 2013. The Wall is 2 metres high x 80 metres long and double-sided. It has both a photographic history of the war on it as well as all of the names of Australian veterans who served. We have been fortunate to have various RAAF Vietnam veterans assisting with the photographs and the RAAF is well represented, having played such a vital role during the Vietnam War. Stage 1 - a replica of Luscombe Bowl at Nui Dat, holds storyboards about the Vietnam War, plus a wonderful cairn commemorating the Army, Navy and Air Force. The surrounding pavers hold memorials to those who've served, some who were lost, and also sponsors of The Walk. If anyone would like to contribute, the forms are on our website which is listed below. We'd love it if you and your members would like to come to the opening. We are landscaping around the wall with "rubber trees" (the Aussie equivalent) and gardens which will represent rice paddies. We also have other items relevant to the war which will be in place for the opening, too. When it's finished, it will be a lovely big park where visitors can revisit the war and learn of our part in it. We've also had New Zealand veterans involved, as they played an important part in our campaign, and they are represented on The Wall as well. We'd love to see all at the opening. If you have any queries about the day, please would you address them to our Secretary, Mr Ross Gregson. His contacts are as follows: Email: vvaamitchell@westnet.com.au, Phone: 03 5792 3227, Mobile: 0417 973 573 Kind regards Carolynne Burgess VIETNAM VETERANS COMMEMORATIVE WALK www.vvaavic.org.au/mitchell.asp 12


Military History and Heritage Victoria (MHHV) and the National Vietnam Veterans Museum (NVVM) will hold a one day conference at the NVVM on Saturday 20 April 2013, from 9 am to 4.30pm. The conference will be opened by Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, AC AFC (Rtd). Four guest speakers, highly experienced in helicopter operations, AVM Robin Klitscher OBE DFC AFC (RNZAF Rtd), AVM Bob Treloar AO (Rtd), AVM Mac Weller AM (Rtd) and Wg Cdr Nick LeRayMeyer AM (Rtd), will address the conference on various aspects of helicopter service in Vietnam. The war in Vietnam has left indelible impressions upon our society. One of the great icons from that decade-long conflict was the helicopter. It was the first time that helicopters were used extensively in a war and as the war progressed the roles employed by helicopters expanded dramatically. Whether operating as slicks (troop carriers), gunships, medevac, heavy lift, observation or aerial trucks, ‘choppers’ became the ubiquitous symbol of the war in Vietnam – and essential for the conduct of the war. No-one who served in Vietnam left without some experience of helicopters, directly or indirectly. What Australian helicopter units served in Vietnam and what were their stories? How did the Australian and New Zealand air and ground crew and performance compare to others? How did they adapt to new helicopter types and tactics? How did helicopters help or hinder our operations in Vietnam? What was the impact on casualty evacuation and survival rates for wounded? What did we learn from the helicopter experience? These are some of the questions this symposium seeks to address. This fully catered conference, in the superb setting of the NVVM and under the wings of a Canberra bomber, will be a must-go event for Vietnam veterans, historians and those who want to learn more about the helicopter experience in Vietnam. Museum and Conference Dinner Dinner will be held at the NVVM on Saturday 20 April 2013 from 7 pm following the one day conference. The dinner is open to all comers, but seats are limited to 80, so book early. The semi-formal dinner will be held in the same superb location as the one day conference, the Museum, and surrounded by the first-class exhibits. MC is Colonel Marcus Fielding, President of MHHV. The dinner will consist of a three course meal and all drinks. First-class entertainment is promised with an engaging after–dinner speaker as well as a great solo entertainer who will sing the popular songs of the 1960s and 70s. Dress is lounge suit or dinner suit for men, with miniatures, and ladies equivalent. More information and booking details are available on the following websites: http://mhhv.org.au/ https://www.vietnamvetsmuseum.org 13


New ADSO website - http://standto.org/cms/ ADSO has launched a new website, using the latest technology to keep you up to date with Campaign developments, and to coincide with the launch, AVM Peter Criss has written a Blog and recorded a short video which can be accessed from his Blog. To view both the Blog and the video, just click on Peter’s Member Blog on the Home Page. The site offers you the chance to have your say and get involved and support the campaign. Take a guided tour with our Webmaster Gordon Wright simply by clicking on the Latest Video "StandTo Website Overview". You will find it on the Home menu page to the left of the Calendar. We invite your comments and recommendations to help us improve the site. Regards, Ted Chitham Campaign Co-Director ADSO 14


HEALTH and WELFARE The Festive Season is upon us and everyone is out enjoying themselves. Now, could be a good time for a little First Aid revision – just in case things don’t go as planned.

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SECRETARY'S SNIPPETS Hi all Seems only yesterday I was writing a short bit for the last edition of our Newsletter but as they say in Air Force circles – time flies! Much is happening with transition to the Air Force Association (AFA); a big statement of both the RAAFVVA’s future, but more importantly, the future of the AFA Branch in Victoria. Without our support and promotion the Air Force Association Vic Branch will cease to exist. I also suggest that the VVAA Vic Branch by its own admission has a limited future, so hopefully you will all understand why we need to recruit and encourage younger ADF Air Force members to join the AFA. Forget what was – this is now! AFA/RAAFVVA Bursary applications close on the 31st January 2013. Get in early as your committee has limited time after that date to process each application and then pass on to the AFA Board of Management for final approval prior to our AGM on the 10th of February. Members attended the “Back to the Museum Day” on Sunday the 18th of November. Some of us gathered at the RSL the night before for a convivial dinner (enjoyed the Port and the company). Some 300 odd members, their families along with many Vietnamese veterans and their families attended the official ceremony on Sunday. The US Consulate General in Australia Ms Mary Warlick officially handed over Iroquois A2-110 to the Museum. At last! Still in Army livery but this is to change with the Aircraft to be set up as half “Slick, and half Gunship”. State President Mr Bob Elworthy and Museum President Mr Gary Parker formally received the unencumbered title to the land on which the Museum sits, which means the museum is debt free at last. The Vet Ride Peleton made an impressive ride through the museum prior to presenting their cheque. Donations from the Vet Ride group, including one personal donation and Vietnamese community donations totalled over $60,000.00, a massive contribution. If you haven’t been to the National Vietnam Veterans Museum, I suggest you do so. It is an eye opener and a tribute to all who served. HANDOVER OF THE UNENCUMBERED LAND TITLE TO THE TRUSTEES Some housekeeping, elsewhere in this Newsletter you will find the agenda and details of our AGM – Sunday 10th February 2013, it is most imperative that as many members as possible attend, this is your Association and we need your help. It is a Sunday but I ask all to forgo mowing the lawn and attend a more rewarding experience. Lunch will be provided. Rick Holmes Secretary

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THE PADRE’S PAGE “IT IS CHRISTMAS ONCE AGAIN” What does Christmas mean to you? I guess for most of us it is family gatherings with giving and receiving of gifts. Christmas is the time when we celebrate the greatest birth in the history of mankind. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the prophet Isaiah told the Jewish people that “The Virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanual, which means, God with us”. (Isaiah Ch 7, vs. 14.) In the Gospel of St. Matthew, Ch 2, vs. 1, and following, is the record of the birth of Jesus Christ and the visit of some wise men. Who were they? In fact, we have no more information about these wise men, other than what Matthew has recorded here. They step out of the obscurity of history and play their part in the most important birth known to mankind – then they disappear again - for ever. Most likely they were astrologers, belonging to the class of men similar to Chaldeans, mentioned in Daniel, Ch 2, vs. 2. They probably came from Mesopotamia. The belief on three wise men has come to us from an apocryphal Armenian Gospel of the Infancy, in which we are told that there were three men from the East, named Melkon (Melchior – King of Persia), Casper (King of India), and Balthazar (King of Arabia).

Though legend has grown around them, nothing is known of the circumstances of their journey beyond what we have here in Matthew’s Gospel. Sufficient it is for us to know that they came worshipping Jesus, and they came bringing gifts – Gold, Frankinsense and Myrrh. GOLD – the ancient Church was united in its interpretation of the gift of Gold as the recognition of the Royalty of Jesus. FRANKINSENSE – a glittering, bitter odorous gum, obtained by incisions into the bark of a peculiar tree from Arabia. In modern times, the East Indies is the chief source of supply. 19


MYRRH – is the gum familiar today which comes from a tree found in Arabia and Abyssinia. It was of great value in ancient times as a perfume and a spice, as well as a medicine and was used in embalming. The three gifts are generally regarded as symbolic of Christ’s three-fold office as King, Priest and Prophet. The very centre of the Christian celebration is summed up by the Angel who visited the shepherds minding their sheep; “I bring you good tidings of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born. He is Christ, the Lord.” I take this opportunity of wishing you and your family a very happy Christmas and may the coming year be the best yet. God bless you all. As ever, George G. (Rev) George G Ashworth, OAM

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“BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE� - written by a Teacher who made a difference (true story) He was in the first third grade class I taught at Saint Mary's School in Morris, Minnesota. All my students were dear to me, but Mark Eklund was one in a million. [He was] very neat in appearance but had that happy-to-be-alive attitude that made even his occasional mischieviousness delightful. Mark talked incessantly. I had to remind him again and again that talking without permission was not acceptable. What impressed me so much, though, was his sincere response every time I had to correct him for misbehaving: "Thank you for correcting me, Sister!" I didn't know what to make of it at first, but before long I became accustomed to hearing it many times a day. One morning my patience was growing thin when Mark talked once too often, and then I made a novice teacher's mistake. I looked at him and said, "If you say one more word, I am going to tape your mouth shut!" It wasn't ten seconds later when Chuck blurted out, "Mark is talking again." I hadn't asked any of the students to help me watch Mark, but since I had stated the punishment in front of the class, I had to act on it. I remember the scene as if it had occurred this morning. I walked to my desk, very deliberately opened my drawer and took out a roll of masking tape. Without saying a word, I proceeded to Mark's desk, tore off two pieces of tape and made a big cross with them over his mouth. I then returned to the front of the room. As I glanced at Mark to see how he was doing, he winked at me. That did it! I started laughing. The class cheered as I walked back to Mark's desk, removed the tape and shrugged my shoulders. His first words were, "Thank you for correcting me, Sister." At the end of the year I was asked to teach junior high math. The years flew by, and before I knew it Mark was in my classroom again. He was more handsome than ever and just as polite. Since he had to listen carefully to my instructions in the "new math," he did not talk as much in ninth grade as he had in the third. One Friday, things just didn't feel right. We had worked hard on a new concept all week, and I sensed that the students were frowning, frustrated with themselves and edgy with one another. I had to stop this crankiness before it got out of hand. So I asked them to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then I told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish the assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed me the papers. Charlie smiled. Mark said, "Thank you for teaching me, Sister. Have a good weekend." That Saturday, I wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and I listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday I gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" I heard whispered. "I never knew that meant anything to anyone!" "I didn't know others liked me so much!" No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. I never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another again. 22


That group of students moved on. Several years later, after I returned from vacation, my parents met me at the airport. As we were driving home, Mother asked me the usual questions about the trip weather, my experiences in general. There was a light lull in the conversation. Mother gave Dad a sideways glance and simply said, "Dad?" Father cleared his throat as he usually did before saying something important. "The Eklunds called last night," he began. "Really?" I said. "I haven't heard from them in years. I wonder how Mark is." Dad responded quietly. "Mark was killed in Vietnam," he said. "The funeral is tomorrow, and his parents would like it if you could attend." To this day I can still point to the exact spot along the road where Dad told me about Mark. I had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. Mark looked so handsome, so mature. All I could think at that moment was, Mark, I would give all the masking tape in the world if only you would talk to me. The church was packed with Mark's friends. Chuck's sister sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Why did it have to rain on the day of the funeral? It was difficult enough at the graveside. The pastor said the usual prayers, and the bugler played taps. One by one those who loved Mark took a last walk by the coffin and sprinkled it with holy water. I was the last one to bless the coffin. As I stood there, one of the soldiers who had acted as pallbearer came up to me. "Were you Mark's maths teacher?" he asked. I nodded as I continued to stare at the coffin. "Mark talked about you a lot," he said. After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates headed to Chuck's farmhouse for lunch. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting for me. "We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it." Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. I knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which I had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him. "Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it." Mark's classmates started to gather around us. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home." Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put this in our wedding album." "I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary." Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said, without batting an eyelash. "I think we all saved our lists." That's when I finally sat down and cried. I cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again. By: Sister Helen P. Mrosla The purpose of this letter is to encourage everyone to compliment the people you love and care about. We often tend to forget the importance of showing our affections and love. Sometimes the smallest of things could mean the most to another. The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don't know when that one day will be. Tell them, before it is too late. 23


ON THE LIGHTER SiDE

Christmas Joke Once Upon A Time, sadly, three members of a RAAF crew (Pilot, Navigator and Flight Engineer) died on Christmas Eve and were met by Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. 'In honour of this holy season' Saint Peter said, 'you must each possess something that symbolizes Christmas to get into heaven.' The Pilot fumbled through his pockets and pulled out a lighter. He flicked it on. 'It's a candle', he said. 'You may pass through the Pearly Gates' Saint Peter said. The Navigator reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys. He shook them and said, 'They're Christmas Bells.' Saint Peter said 'You may pass through the Pearly Gates'. The FE started searching desperately through his pockets and finally pulled out a pair of women's panties. St. Peter looked at the man with a raised eyebrow and asked, 'And just what do those symbolize?' The crusty old Warrant Officer replied, 'These are Carol’s.'

And So, The Christmas Season Begins...... 24


Driving Home from the Christmas Party An elderly veteran, having stayed out too long with his mates, was stopped by a police car, around 2 a.m., and asked where he was going at that time of night.

The old vet replied, "I'm on my way to a lecture about alcohol abuse and the effects it has on the human body, as well as smoking and staying out too late." The officer then asked, "Oh, really? this time of night?"

And who would be giving you that lecture at

"My wife!"

Advice for an old guy... I decided to tone up (a little) before Christmas, so was working out at the gym when I spotted a sweet young thing walking in... I asked the trainer standing next to me, "What machine should I use to impress that lady over there?" The trainer looked me up and down, and said; "I would recommend the ATM in the lobby."

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Now, I know I'm not the most romantic person, but I have to admit, I found this story rather touching. A young couple was Christmas shopping at the mall on Christmas Eve - and it was packed. Walking through the crowds, the wife looked up and suddenly noticed her husband was no where around and became very upset, because they had a lot to do. She used her mobile phone to call her husband and ask him where he was. The husband in a calm voice said, “honey remember the jewellery store we went into 5 years ago, where you fell in love with that diamond necklace that we could not afford, and I told you that I would get it for you one day?” Now crying, his wife says, “yes I remember that jewellery store, darling”. “Well”, he said, “I'm in the bar next to it”.

HERE’S TO A STRESS FREE CHRISTMAS, RALAXING AND ENJOYABLE HOLIDAY PERIOD AND VERY HAPPY AND HEALTHY 2013!! 26


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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December 2012