The sacrifice made by two Warrnambool men killed in the Vietnam conflict is being brought to the fore on Anzac Day this year.
A cemetery tour led by Vietnam veteran Doug Heazlewood will visit 10 graves including those of Private William Carroll and Private Graham Warburton who were just 21 when they died in Vietnam.
Mr Heazlewood said for the past few years the tours had concentrated on First World War (WWI) veterans, but it was time to expand it to tell other veterans' stories.
"In the time that we've been paying due homage to the veterans of WWI on the 100th anniversary of the war, a lot of the 50th anniversaries of the Vietnam War have passed by without a great deal of public attention," he said.
"We'll be focusing a little bit on Vietnam veterans and ... for the first time they were brought home to be buried in Australia."
He said historically veterans were buried in the nearest war cemetery but in Vietnam that changed.
Warrnambool's William Carroll was the first combat soldier killed in Vietnam, and one of the more than 500 killed in the conflict.
Mr Heazlewood said Private Carroll enlisted in 1965 and he became a rifleman in the first combat unit deployed to Vietnam in May 1965.
In June, the unit arrived back at base camp after a successful first operation with the US 173 Airborne Brigade which cleared an area of Viet Cong resistance.
Mr Heazlewood said that, relieved to be back at the camp, the men asked their truck driver to stop off at the kitchen so they could get a cool drink on what was a really hot day.
"They all jumped off the truck ... and a grenade on someone's webbing caught on the side of the truck as he was jumping off and it pulled out the pin and the grenade went off," he said.
Private Carroll was one of two people killed instantly, a third died in hospital days later.
Mr Heazlewood said the first combat casualties of the war were as a result of an accident, although others had died previously but they were specialist advisers who were training the Vietnamese to fight the war for themselves.
Private Carroll left behind a widow and six-month-old son, who will both be there for cemetery tour on Anzac Day.
Mr Heazlewood was at Duntroon with a cousin of Private Carroll's when the news of his death was announced one morning.
"It was really hard," he said.
Mr Heazlewood had met Private Carroll when they were kids - he lived down the street from Private Carroll's grandparents in South Warrnambool, and would meet up when they came to visit.
Mr Heazlewood was shipped out to Vietnam in 1966 and was deployed to Nui Dat as direct artillery support for Graham 'Nugget' Warburton's battalion who were the second infantry combat unit to be deployed to Vietnam.
He said the government, which had decided to have an independent Australian force under its own control operating in a different part of the country, upgraded the battalion to a taskforce.
Private Warburton was one of a number of Warrnambool soldiers who were members of the 5RAR.
Mr Heazlewood said Private Warburton had become one of his platoon's favoured forward scouts, a very hazardous job.
"Anyone who has been a forward scout in the infantry, and manage to continue to do it, was a brave man. If he survived it, he was a brave and a lucky man," he said.
In October 1966, Private Warburton's company had been sweeping an area north of the taskforce base for most of the morning and had stopped to rest and regroup.
"As the company moved off, shaking out behind Graham as the person who was going to go first into the unknown, he'd only gone a few steps when he was shot in the neck," he said.
The medical evacuation helicopter, known as a dust-off helicopter, was delayed so the medical officer of his battalion flew out to him in a small helicopter in attempt to save his life.
"He was still alive when he got on the dust-off helicopter but died a few minutes after he got on there," Mr Heazlewood said.
Private Warburton was well known and his memory lived on during the war after a range of mountains called the Nui Dinh hills was named after him on mud maps used during the conflict.
Mr Heazlewood said it stemmed from a popular song called Wolverton Mountain which his fellow soldiers had teased him about, changing the words to Warburton mountains.
After his death, those hills become known as The Warbies by every succeeding unit. His friends in the unit still regularly get together for reunions.
Some of his relatives will join the tour which visits the grave where he is buried with his parents.
The tour, which starts at 8.30am at the rotunda, will also visit the graves of returned WWI soldiers Corporal William Anderson, Lieutenant Ralph Brittain, Private William Ryan, Sergeant Isaac Primmer, Corporal John Hempel and Private George Sell.
The tour also visits the graves of Private Edward Artso, Gunner Harold Carter and Major Thomas Redford who were killed in WWI, and the grave of Sergeant Neil Johnson who was killed in WWII.
Anzac Day ceremonies
The sacrifice of our war veterans will be remembered at Anzac Day services across the south-west on Thursday.
Warrnambool's traditional dawn service will start at 6am, following a short march to the war memorial where, for the first time this year, there will be a reading in appreciation of the war service given by Aboriginal soldiers.
It will be followed by a tour of war graves at the Warrnambool cemetery from 8.30am.
A street march down Liebig Street will begin at 10.30am for the memorial service at 11am which will be followed by wreath laying.
Other services include:
- A 6.30am dawn service in Port Fairy and a march and commemorative service 10.15am.
- Camperdown dawn service is at 6am, followed by a march and service at 10.30am.
- Cobden's service is at 11am.
- Derrinallum's service is at 10.30am.
- Dennington will hold a community breakfast opposite the war memorial at 7.30am, and a march and service from 9am.
- Ellerslie service at 9am.
- Hawkesdale's dawn service at 6am.
- Koroit's service at 12.30am.
- Mortlake will hold a march and service from 10am.
- Noorat's service is at 8am.
- Panmure will hold a march and service at 2pm.
- Terang's dawn service starts at 5.45am followed by a march and commemorative service at 10am.
- Yambuk's dawn service starts at 6.30am.
- Portland's dawn service is at 6.35am followed by a march and service at 10.30am.
- Hamilton's dawn service is at 6.30am. A march and commemorative service will be held at 10am.
- Heywood's march and service is at 10am.
- Macarthur's service is at 11am.
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