Recognition for Vietnam vets
FITTING By JULIA ILES
FINALLY the sacrifice of Vietnam veterans will be properly remembered, with a monument to be built at Grafton's Memorial Park.
President of the Clarence Valley branch of the Vietnam Veterans Federation of Australia, Ralph Hindmarsh, served twice as a regular soldier in Vietnam.
"I served both tours over there with the Fifth Royal Australian Battalion, which now have a company in Iraq and are still active," he said.
"It was difficult and very frustrating from the view of political interference and very demoralising from some of the people who were anti-war. This affected the morale of some of the troops."
Mr Hindmarsh said keeping up the spirits of the troops during the conflict was very important for their welfare and safety.
Two Clarence Valley men, Private Bill Nalder and Lieutenant Errol John Lee, were killed in action in Vietnam.
A group of retired veterans and their wives were on hand along with Clarence Valley mayor Ian Tiley to turn the first sod where the monument will stand.
It has taken more than two years to raise money and plan for the monument.
"We've had quite a few people from around the community and corporate bodies who have donated and hopefully we'll see this well on the way before Remembrance Day," Mr Hindmarsh said.
"There is a close network of Vietnam veterans in the Valley who are very supportive of each other ... we are all old friends, if anyone has any sicknesses or ill health or need financial assistance we are there to back one another."
Branch secretary Lorraine Burt described the monument design as 'huge'.
"There will be three entrances, seats on one side, then on the back is a big wall with a Clar- ence Valley Vietnam veterans memorial; at the back of the memorial will be nine plaques and the names of everybody who got killed in action in Vietnam," she said.
"The names of those who have already passed away and will pass away will also go on it and extends to the whole of the Clarence Valley.
"If anyone moves to live in the area their name can also go on it."
The group is still in need of funds, and anyone wishing to donate should call Mrs Burt on 6648 4186.