Vietnam War veteran recalls value of artillery
By REN LANZONrlanzon@gladstoneobserver.com.au
JOHN Cooper knows full well the im- portant part played by the Austra- lian artillery in the Vietnam War.
John enlisted with the Royal Aus- tralian Artillery in 1963 at the age of 17 before the start of the Australian involvement in Vietnam.
He was sent to Vietnam as Bom- bardier Surveyor in 1968 having pre- viously served in Malaysia for the In donesian confrontation.
'Our job was to support the infan- try if they ventured outside of Nui Dat,' he said. Nui Dat was where the 1st Australian Task Force estab- lished its operations base when new- ly arrived in 1966.
John is reluctant to talk about spe- cifics in that war.
He feels the Vietnam veterans were badly let down, and even when they were finally recognised, it was "too little, too late'' as far as he was concerned.
'Personally Long Tan Day means less to me than Anzac Day ? I never believed we should have a special day of recognition but just to be re- cognised as Anzacs.'
John will probably not attend to- day's Long Tan Day (otherwise known as Vietnam Veterans' Day) service at Anzac Park because he has a doctor's appointment.
'I changed the appointment date to Thursday to be able to attend the Victory in the Pacific celebrations held on Monday ? I didn't give a thought to Long Tan Day,' he said.
John said the toughest time for him in the Vietnam War was know- ing Australian troops needed help, but not being able to assist because of other battle engagements at that time.
Today's Long Tan (Vietnam Veterans') Day service at Anzac Park will start at 11.30am.