I believe all ANZAC Day speeches should start with - Thank you.
Thank you to the ANZACS of WW1 And WW2.
Those veterans whose proud march has now slowed to a shuffle.
Those service men and women whose bravery and commitment is enshrined in our fabric and our being.
But this morning I also ask you to think of other conflicts where Australians have served to protect our freedoms as a nation.
Since World War II, Australian defence forces have fought in conflicts in Japan, Korea, Malaya, Indonesia, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and have been involved in peacekeeping efforts in over thirty countries throughout Asia, Africa, Europe and the Pacific Islands.
Too all those who have served and are currently serving... Thank you.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Coral-Balmoral, which took place between May and June, 1968, in the fire support bases of Coral and Balmoral 40 kilometres north of Saigon.
Australian troops from the 1st and 3rd Royal Australian Regiment (RAR), and the 102 Field Battery Royal Australian Artillery joined United States and New Zealand forces in manning the bases, which provided support to infantry patrols in the area.
One of the men from the 3RAR is with us today and a member of the Brighton RSL, Rifleman Roger Burke.
The Battle of Coral-Balmoral is widely acknowledged as one of the largest, most sustained and most hazardous battles of the Vietnam War.
Coral and Balmoral Fire Support Bases came under attack several times in the 23 days between the 13th of May and the 6th of June, 1968.
A New South Wales soldier with the 3RAR who had completed training in Adelaide and been shipped off from Outer Harbour explained well the terror of war most of us will hopefully never know.
He said this in a diary entry.
“The explosions shook the ground in my pit and showered me with dirt. If one explosion seemed closer than the one before, I knew that I had to wait for the next one, because it would either be closer still or it might land on the other side of me.
"If the next one also seemed a little closer, then I had to wait … and wait … and wait … for the next one, which could be the one that would kill or maim me.
"If that explosion landed on the other side of me, then I could breathe again until the next volley of rounds, when they would start getting closer again.
“I tried everything I knew, including prayer, to distract myself from the thought that I could die at any moment. The possibility of my own death was a reality to be faced, rather than some abstract notion that I didn’t need to think about..”
All up, 26 Australians were killed during the Battle of Coral-Balmoral, over 100 were wounded and too many to count lived a terror.
Regiments involved in the Battle (including 3RAR) were later awarded one of only five battle honours approved for the Vietnam War.
So if you see Rifleman, Roger Bourke today, or any of his mates OR if you see anyone who has served to help us keep our freedoms..
Make sure you say - Thank you.