THE Shoalhaven Vietnam Veterans Association commemoration to mark Vietnam Veterans' Day will be held next Wednesday, November 3.
After the disappointment of having to postpone this year's planned commemoration on August 18 due to the enforced NSW-wide stay at home orders, Shoalhaven branch president Clyde Poulton is delighted to finally see the annual event go ahead.
"It was disappointing to have to postpone this year's event which would have marked the 55th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan," Mr Poulton said.
"We were always hopeful things would settle down and we would eventually get to stage the commemoration at some time. We were never going to cancel, that's for sure.
"We had not missed a commemorative service in 40 years and we weren't about to start now."
The service will be held at the earlier than usual starting time of 5pm in Walsh Park in Bomaderry and is open to everyone.
Guest speaker at this year's event will be chair of the board of RSL NSW, Sophie Ray, while the catafalque party will be provided by the Shoalhaven Air Force Cadets.
Mr Poulton has encouraged all Vietnam veterans and their partners and friends to come along.
"It will be a reasonably short service, about 30-45 minutes, but it is a chance for us to remember and honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice," he said.
"The obvious drive to reschedule the event was to make sure all Vietnam veterans get the opportunity to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives and also to remember their mates from regiments and units who served in the longest war Australia had fought at that time.
"We were determined COVID wasn't going to beat us, so we worked on getting the earliest opportunity we could to be able to gather and reflect on the service of Vietnam veterans.
"As of November 1 there will be lots more freedoms expected. I know some members might still have some reservations and I understand that, but we will follow all COVID safe protocols that apply to any outside event, like our service."
He said the service is open to any members of the public who might be interested in attending.
Following the service there will be a chance for those present to catch up for a chat at the Bomaderry Bowling Club, where finger food will also be served.
"As well as remembering our fallen mates, catching up with each other is just as important, especially in these times of COVID lockdowns," Mr Poulton said.
"It is even more important now that as many veterans as possible come out and have a chat for a while with people who have given like-service."
Mr Poulton said the past 18 months had been tough for many, and especially veterans, with COVID-19 putting a halt to a number of commemorative services.