The remains of 25 Australian servicemen killed in Vietnam will be brought home four decades after the conflict ended.
Tony Abbott and Veterans’ Affairs Minister Michael Ronaldson will announce today that the government will offer the families of Australian servicemen killed in Vietnam War and buried overseas the chance to repatriate their remains.
More than 60,000 men and women served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1973 and 521 died. In line with earlier Australian policy, those killed were buried in the nearest Commonwealth war cemetery.
After January 1966, a change of policy meant those killed were brought home.
However, 24 remained buried in the Terendak Military Cemetery in Malaysia and one in the Singapore’s Kranji War Cemetery.
The decision to repatriate the final 25 was made in response to requests from families and veterans’ groups over many years.
The Prime Minister and Senator Ronaldson said the government had consulted extensively with the RSL, the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia, the Vietnam Veterans Federation of Australia, and with veterans’ families.
“It is time that all our Vietnam fallen had the same treatment, which is why the government will offer to repatriate the remains of those buried overseas, with the agreement of their families,” they said last night in a joint statement.
The government also will offer families of other servicemen and dependants buried at Terendak the opportunity to bring their remains home.
“We are grateful to the government of Malaysia for taking good care of the graves of our soldiers and civilians and for facilitating visits for their loved ones,” the statement said.
The government will meet the costs of repatriation and reburial.