THE need to show more respect for our fallen Diggers has inspired Wonthaggi’s Vern Loeckenoff to organise a memorial at the Wonthaggi Cemetery on Anzac Day.
The Vietnam veteran has created 200 white crosses with red poppies, which will be set up in a triangle at the cemetery, to honour fallen Diggers of Wonthaggi.
Vern said the Diggers deserve better.
“Some of the graves are so deplorable, so we’ve got to do something in the eyes of the War Grave Commission to say ‘come here and fix this’,” he said.
“On Anzac Day during the dawn service and the march, we’re going to announce to come down here and pay respects.”
“Some of them came back with horrific injuries and they didn’t die at war, but they died in the mines and places like that.
“My wife’s father, Donald Gordon Featherston, died in the mine here and unbeknown to everybody else here, he was a winner of the Distinguished Flying Cross, which is one step down from the VC.
“What memory is of him here? Nothing. That’s what spurred us on.”
The 200 poppies took about 50 hours for Vern to make and Bunnings Wonthaggi donated materials for the memorial.
Vern feels strongly about honouring the fallen.
“We need to bring this back so people can get some honour and respect in their own lives again,” he said.
“I hear so many stories about taking ‘this out of the ceremony’ and ‘taking that out of the ceremony’. We don’t need to change any of that. These guys gave everything for us to be free.”
See more on Anzac Day events on pages 22 and 23.