Craig Fothergill and Merv Thompson address Gayndah to commemorate 50 years since the Vietnam War Battles of Coral & Balmoral.
Craig Fothergill and Merv Thompson address Gayndah to commemorate 50 years since the Vietnam War Battles of Coral & Balmoral. Felicity Ripper

Anniversary of Vietnam battle hits home

THIS year, May 13 is widely celebrated as Mother's Day but this morning Gayndah locals gathered in town to commemorate a more solemn occasion.

Commencing on May 13, 50 years ago, Australian soldiers fought their largest and arguably most hazardous battles of the Vietnam War: the Battles of Coral & Balmoral.

At 10.45am today Craig Fothergill, a Vietnam Veteran, led a service to mark the significant anniversary and remember Gayndah local Mick Bohl who fought in the battles at 19 years of age.

"Mick was on the perimeter as number two on an M60 machine gun,” Mr Fothergill said.

"On that first night 11 Australians were killed and 28 wounded.”

Mr Bohl returned to Australia in December of 1968 after experiencing great heat, wet conditions, poor food, terror, and the death of his mates.

A proud soldier, he passed away in 1996 at the age of 47.

The service was followed by a visit to Gayndah Cemetery where Mr Bohl's ashes lay.

Family, friends, and fellow veterans in attendance were invited to place a poppy at the site.

"Along with all servicemen and women who served in South Vietnam, Michael Bohl was a hero,” Director of the Australian War Memorial Dr Brendan Nelson said.

"A very humble man with a gentle heart.”

Mr Bohl's story can be read at Gayndah Museum.

"More Australians need to know and understand what these young men did and what they saw,” Dr Nelson said.

"Had we worked harder to do so a generation ago, some of these returned Vietnam veterans would not have suffered as much...”


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