I have just spent a few days in Albury with other members of the team organising the next reunion of our 85 Transport Platoon which will be helped over the Vietnam Veterans Day weekend from August 16 to 18.
On our way back to Melbourne, we stopped at the town of Seymour to visit the newly opened Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk. Seymour is a fairly unexciting town about 100 kilometres north of Melbourne. (Some people, especially ex-soldiers, say that the best thing to ever have come out of the town is the Hume Highway). Approximately 6000 people live in Seymour. Its military history goes back as far as the Boer War when troops were trained in the nearby hills. It was a training area for the Light Horse in WW1 and an important military town in WW2. It is just 11 kilometres away from the current Puckapunyal army base which still serves as a major training area. This is where many National Servicemen (including me) began their compulsory two years in the military in the 1960’s.
The ‘Walk’ commemorates the service of all who played their part in what turned out to be a volatile and divisive part of Australia’s history. It has an interpretive centre which is modelled on the entertainment stage at Luscombe Bowl where we were entertained during the war at concerts given by travelling entertainment groups.
Some military equipment of the day will eventually be on display and the walk itself is a meandering red earth path set in native trees and grasses that are meant to resemble rubber trees and rice paddies. These two plants are synonymous with Vietnam.
Along the length of this Walk are twin walls made up of panels of DigiGlass with the name of every Serviceman and Servicewoman who served. The names are separated both by the Service in which these people served, but obviously in Alphabetical order. The plinths on which the panels stand have places in which to place poppies with the intention of having a field of poppies under all the names. Behind the names is a picture story of the Vietnam conflict.
This is the only memorial in which all the Australians who served in Vietnam are mentioned individually by name. It is well worth a visit if you are in the Seymour area.