The 11th of January 2018 marked the 45th Anniversary of the Proclamation by the Governor-General of cessation of hostilities by Australian forces in Vietnam. In total approximately 60,000 Australians—ground troops, air-force and naval personnel—served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1972. 521 died as a result of the war and over 3,000 were wounded.
The Australian War Memorial were commemorating the date with a last post service dedicated to Private Alan John Cooper of the 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment who, at the age of 20, was killed in action on 26 May 1968.
Members of the Veterans MC Central Coast NSW Chapter on a trip around NSW were coming to Canberra for the occasion and were being hosted by the Federal Chapter of the VMC. Members from the Federal Chapter rode down to Batemans Bay to meet up with Central Coast and rode into Canberra via lunch at the Loaded Dog pub in Tarago. A refreshing beverage at the Federal Chapter Clubhouse and around 20 bikes made their way to the Australian War Memorial.
Parking for the bikes was organised with the Memorial allowing us to park up by the entrance near the statue of Simpson and his donkey.
A bit of time was spent wandering around one of the most significant museums in the world with a couple of Afghanistan veterans from the Central Coast checking out the Australia in Afghanistan display and signing their names to the wall. We also checked out the Long Tan Cross now on permanent display in the Reg Saunders gallery.
The memorial is doing a great job of updating and changing displays regularly to keep it interesting and fresh for example the current “From the Shadows”, a Special Forces display.
The group met up again just prior to the Last Post Ceremony so the two Presidents could get a brief on the wreath laying portion of the ceremony and to organise the group to form up in two ranks alongside the Pool of Reflection up near the presentation dais. As is normal it was a moving ceremony, if you are ever in Canberra it should be on your list to attend a Last Post ceremony which are done every day except Christmas Day. A list is published on the website of what is being commemorated each day around 10 months in advance.
Following the ceremony we rode back to the Federal Chapter clubhouse for a feed, a few drinks and a catch up with a group spending the night in the bunkhouse. Central Coast moved on the next morning on their road trip with some Federal members joining them for a part of their journey.
There is so much to be thankful for living in this country, we often take the opportunity to thank those that have contributed to our lifestyle. There is nothing better than doing that in fine company.
Lest We Forget.