Operation Bring Them Home
Darwin High School students were involved in operation Bring Them Home an initiative of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia Northern Territory Branch. The project sought to return to Australia the remains of 25 Australian Soldiers killed in the Vietnam War. They had been buried in a cemetery at Terendak Military Base and in Kranji Cemetery in Singapore, both of which were difficult for family of the deceased to access.
The only Territorian to die on active service in the Vietnam War, Corporal Reg Hillier’s remains were returned to the Territory after a long battle spear-headed by former Darwin High student and teacher Bob Shewring.
At the time of Cpl Hillier’s death the Australian Government had a policy which left deceased diggers stranded abroad unless their families could find the money - $35,000 in today’s terms – to bring them home.
Darwin High School was asked if students could assist with seating arrangements and Order of Service distribution at the service at Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday, and again at the re-interment in Adelaide River War Cemetery on Sunday.
Ciara Collister, Sonya Fenton, Gracie Ponce and Tash Allama met dignitaries and showed them to their seats in the Cathedral, then travelled to Adelaide River to distribute poppies and hand out Orders of Service at the re-interment.
At a luncheon held at the Vietnam Veterans’ Headquarters in Bee’s Creek, VVAA President Bob Shewring publicly thanked Darwin High School for its support and presented Ciara Collister and Sonya Fenton with a gift in appreciation of their involvement (see image above).
The students impressed all, and on many occasions were told what wonderful ambassadors they were for their school. They were also part of a ceremony, which hopefully they will never see repeated.
Image: Students with Keith Payne VC.
Image: Students with VVAA President Bob Shewring.