Photography: Meg Gannon
Men and women, young and old gathered at the Springvale Commonwealth War Cemetery for the 39th annual State Annual Remembrance Service hosted by RSL Victoria.
The first service of its kind was held at the cemetery in 1985 as an initiative of the Springvale RSL Sub-Branch.
The service continues to provide a tangible link to the relatives, friends and wartime comrades who have been part of our lives in times gone by.
The audience was treated to an address by guest speaker Robert Krog, who brought a personal touch about his service years to the proceedings.
Bob, as he is known, joined the navy in June 1970 and completed initial training at HMAS Leeuwin.
He was drafted to HMAS Duchess and HMAS Ceberus.
He turned 18 on 19 October 1972, shortly before he joined HMAS Sydney and set sail for Vung Tau, Vietnam in November.
“I vividly recall being assigned to a spot on an open wing below the flight deck and instructed to stow my belongings in a small cage along with five others. It was there that I received a fold up camp stretcher as my bunk. The expanse of the flight deck was cluttered with military trucks, jeeps, combi vans, all painted in army khaki. I couldn’t help wondering why that in the absence of any troops why we were subjected to such austere living conditions. The discomfort persisted until we reached more temperate climates, although the bouts of rainfall remained a challenge. With no air conditioning or heating, it was either more or less blankets.”
Bob shared many stories of his time in service.
"Reflecting on the 50 years that have passed since the end of the Vietnam conflict, the memories linger as if it was just yesterday."
Bob was also drafted to HMAS Vampire in 1973, before discharging later that year.
In his opening address, RSL Victoria President Dr Robert Webster OAM highlighted the staggering commitment the country made in the two World Wars.
“The price so many of these brave men and women paid is unmeasurable and must never be forgotten,” he said.
He also paid tribute to the veterans in attendance at the service.
“They have known first-hand what it means to face the many difficulties associated with military life and have given this country an immeasurable gift through their service.”
Several dignitaries were in attendance, including politicians and Defence Force representatives, who laid wreaths and other tributes at the Cross of Sacrifice.
The service included readings by students from St Margaret’s Berwick Grammar, Cranbourne East Secondary College, Wheeles Hill Secondary College and Haileybury College.