AS A Leongatha resident, and visitor to Canberra, it’s not hard to feel proud when you stop by the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial in Anzac Parade.
Standing there as a symbol of a nation’s gratitude and an acknowledgement of the sacrifice made by those who served in Vietnam, in the iconic photo by Michael Coleridge, are members of 5 Platoon, B Company including our own Rob Fennell.
Now, 55 years after the first Australian troops landed in Vietnam, in June 1962, the Bradford Exchange has just issued a commemorative coin set featuring that same image.
It’s a commercial venture by a private company but it’s a further reminder that the image will live on, and with it, Rob and his mates.
More importantly though, the image captures a moment in time near the village of Phuoc Hai that says much about a conflict that involved 30,000 Australian ex-servicemen, including 3000 wounded and 521 casualties.
It’s in this spirit that Rob and his family have accepted the honour, generated by that random event on Saturday, August 26, 1967, and also taken an interest in the issuing of the commemorative coin.
A spokesperson for the Fennells said several family members were likely to order one of the coins as a keepsake.
It’s interesting to note that the photographer, Sergeant Coleridge, had an interesting service career of his own.
An article about Rob’s thoughts on the Vietnam War, his return visit there in 2001 and his son Travis’ decision to move there to live appeared in the Great Southern Star as a precursor to Long Tan Day, in August 2013.
It can be searched on the internet: http://thestar.com.au/blog/family-heals-after-vietnam/
The photo includes members of 5 Platoon, B Company, 7th Battalion, 7RAR.
They include from left to right: Private (Pte) Peter Capp (kneeling); Pte Bob Fennell (crouching, facing camera); Corporal Bob Darcy (left of Fennell); Pte Neal Hasted (centre, front); Pte Ian Jury (centre, back, holding rifle); Pte Colin Barnett (front, right); Lance Corporal Stan Whitford (left of Barnett); helicopter marker at right is Pte John Raymond Gould.