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Proud moment for a Vietnam veteran

EACH YEAR, Remembrance Day gives us a chance to reflect on the sacrifices of those who fought to defend our values and way of life in times of conflict.

Of the ANZAC values of respect and mateship.

But for Vietnam veteran Bill Blaikie, yesterday's Remembrance Day service in Grafton was about more than these - it was about reflecting on the importance of future generations as he watched his teenage grandson Jake Hayton march as an army cadet.

Half a decade earlier, a young Mr Blaikie was recovering from significant wounds to his hip and legs. 

Vietnam vet Bill Blaikie with his grandson Jake Hayton, 14 who formed part of the 24 ACU guard at the Grafton Remembrance Day service.
Vietnam vet Bill Blaikie with his grandson Jake Hayton, 14 who formed part of the 24 ACU guard at the Grafton Remembrance Day service. Adam Hourigan

He had landed on the foreign shores of Vietnam with Australia's 1st Battalion in March 1965, but his campaign was cut short when he and a mate tripped a mine, or in his own words, "I got blown up and sent home".

It's a story Jake has heard "three times before", but it was also one that inspired him to march in his father's footsteps and join the army cadets earlier this year.

Yesterday, the 14-year-old formed part of the cenotaph guard for the first time.

He had spent hours practising around the house beforehand, making sure he didn't get it wrong.

"That's why this is such a big day," Mr Blaikie said.

"He came to my place beforehand and I made him buff up his brass... he did well."

Army cadets marched at Remembrance Day services across the Clarence Valley yesterday to mark 98 years since the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare.

Grafton RSL sub-branch vice-president David Morgan addressed the crowd at Grafton's Memorial Park on the power of mateship, which he said drove ANZAC troops to push on through the First World War.

"Not letting down the team is a powerful motivator in our nation's psyche," he said.

"The (ANZACS) greatest gift to us through their suffering and that of their families is our freedom."

Lest we forget.

Topics:  anzac general-seniors-news remembrance day war



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