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Author Topic: Two AUSSIE Diggers, missing for 40 years may soon be home  (Read 1280 times)

Offline mick

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Two AUSSIE Diggers, missing for 40 years may soon be home
« on: April 20, 2007, 05:04:56 AM »

April 19, 2007

A group of Australian Vietnam veterans are 99 per cent certain remains they have uncovered in southern Vietnam belong to two diggers missing in action for more than 40 years.

Lance Corporal Richard Parker and Private Peter Gillson were killed during battle in the Dong Nai province east of Saigon in 1965, but their bodies were never recovered.

The group of veterans, known as Operation Aussies Home, have been searching in Vietnam for the two soldiers and another four still missing in other parts of the country.

Group leader Retired Infantry Lieutenant Colonel Jim Bourke and Veterans Affairs Minister Bruce Billson are both optimistic the remains will be identified as the missing pair.

Lt Col Bourke said the group had researched their likely resting place then used ground-penetrating radar to eliminate much of the half-acre cassava field they were examining.

On Monday the group discovered the sole of a boot and began excavating the surrounding area.

"(On Wednesday) we had a major breakthrough," Mr Bourke told ABC Radio.

"The guys recovered a map that was the same map as we used on that operation in 1965.

"It was quite a moving scene, actually.

"The men were working in extreme temperatures, and as they were excavating they were talking to their friends, and telling them they were going home."

Lt Col Bourke said he had called the men's families to break the news.

"I didn't want to do it until I was 99.5 per cent certain that we had the remains of the two men, and I've got that degree of certainty now, based on the recovery of the map," he said.

"Obviously identification of the remains will be subject to a formal forensic process. But as I say I'm 99 per cent certain that we're on the money."

Mr Billson said if the remains did prove to be Australian they would be treated with dignity.

"We've got some optimism but we need to be careful that there's firm (proof of their identity)," he told Southern Cross Broadcasting.

"I've got some optimism, if they are who we think they may be, we'll arrange for their repatriation back to Australia and proper burial in consultation with their families."

Forensic specialists were preparing to leave for Vietnam within days to help in the identification process, Mr Billson said.

The excavation also has uncovered bone fragments, teeth and a button used on Australian Army clothing of the 1960s.

© 2007 AAP

Offline beehive lane

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Re: Two AUSSIE Diggers, missing for 40 years may soon be home
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2007, 05:20:36 AM »
It's about time!

Offline mick

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Our Boys will be home on Wednesday
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2007, 06:33:50 AM »
Our brave Boys have been found and will be repatriated to Australia on Wednesday.

Cpl. Parker and Pte. Gillson were hastily buried by the Viet Cong they were trying to kill, after the battle.

 The discovery and repatriation of their remains will close a chapter for family and the platoon corporal, the latter who has literally counted down the days.

A delegation of 20 Australians including Veterans' Affairs Minister Bruce Billson, Australian Land Commander Major-General Mark Kelly, family members and platoon comrades, will fly to Vietnam on Sunday.

The party will receive from Vietnamese authorities the remains of Lance Corporal Parker, of Sydney, and Private Peter Gillson, of Melbourne battalion mates who went missing during the same battle in 1965.

Their remains were found last month.

It will be the first repatriation of Australian servicemen missing in action since the war. A chaplain will conduct a brief ceremony in Hanoi, which will include a rendition of Last Post, a minute's silence and the Lord's Prayer, before the two coffins are brought by a C130 Hercules aircraft to the Richmond air base in NSW on Wednesday.

Both men will have full military funerals, with Lance Corporal Parker to be buried at Woden cemetery at his family's request because it is the closest war cemetery to Sydney where other Vietnam Veterans were laid to rest.

The funeral will be held on Tuesday, June 12 at 2pm.

His widow Wendy Mudford, who lives in New Zealand, has been too emotional to talk about the discovery of his remains in an old Viet Cong weapons pit, a timber plantation, 60km north-east of Ho Chi Minh City.

Lance Corporal Parker, who was 24 years old when he was gunned down while leading an attack on an enemy bunker, had no children.

The family will be represented by the platoon corporal that day, Trevor Hagan, of Queensland, who has counted the days since he left "Tiny" behind.

"November 9, 1965 was the worst day of my life because we had to pull off and leave two soldiers on the battlefield," he said. "It's been 15,148 days since I lost Tiny and I'll stop counting after the funeral because I can say to Wendy, and all the blokes, that I did what I promised, and I brought him home."

Mr Hagan and other members of a group of mostly Vietnam veterans unearthed their fallen mates lying head-to-toe in an enemy bunker after scouring the hillside over four years.

Four other Australian soldiers remain missing in action from the war.

It saddens me that the search for these boys was left up to private individuals. Our Government was nowhere to be seen.

Details of "Operation Aussies Home" can be found at http://austmia.com/aboutOAH.htm

My thanks to the Soldiers of the North Vietnamese Army for the respect they showed these two men by giving them a Battlefield Burial and to the People and Government of Vietnam for looking after our Diggers for all of this time.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow,
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.


Offline buzzbee

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Re: Two AUSSIE Diggers, missing for 40 years may soon be home
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2007, 07:32:15 AM »
Glad to see they are finally getting a proper burial at home!It's too bad the government from either side couldn't properly repatriate the dead after the war.I guess thats another reason they say war is hell.
From what happened to so many over they,maybe they got the short path to death instead of torture and inhumane treatment before their demise!May they families rest better now.

Online kathyp

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Re: Two AUSSIE Diggers, missing for 40 years may soon be home
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2007, 12:02:14 PM »
in spite of best efforts, sometimes people get left behind.  it's always good when we can get them back.
One could not learn history from architecture any more than one could learn it from books. Statues, inscriptions, memorial stones, the names of streets ? anything that might throw light upon the past had been systematically altered. (1.8.85)

George Orwell  "1984"