Vietnam veterans’ bond unbreakable

Launceston Vietnam Veterans’ Association patron Richard Holtsbaum at the memorial service at the Launceston Cenotaph.  Picture: SCOTT GELSTON

Launceston Vietnam Veterans’ Association patron Richard Holtsbaum at the memorial service at the Launceston Cenotaph. Picture: SCOTT GELSTON

AN old union adage served as a metaphor for the importance of the Launceston sub-branch of the Vietnam Veterans’ Association: united we stand, divided we fall.

Sub-branch patron Richard Holtsbaum spoke yesterday at the Vietnam Veterans’ Day memorial service in Launceston.

The Bellerive man and  state secretary Brian Harper were founding members of the Launceston branch 34 years ago.

Life was incredibly difficult as a Vietnam veteran, Mr Holtsbaum said.

‘‘It was terrible, absolutely terrible,’’ he said.

‘‘We were selling hot dogs at the Launceston Show and no one would buy them from us.

‘‘I got up on the PA and told them they were a bunch of mongrels. It didn’t make a difference but I felt much better for it.’’

Mr Holtsbaum said he preferred to focus on the positives of his tour of duty – helping to build orphanages and dealing with civilians were among his better memories.

‘‘We were trained for whatever we did in Vietnam and I think we did a really good job.’’

The Launceston sub-branch was formed after Mr Holtsbaum moved to the city from Canberra in the early 1980s.

‘‘We were the first group in Australia that called ourselves Vietnam veterans,’’ he said.

‘‘The bond of veterans is very, very strong and unless you were a veteran you would never understand.’’

The organisation now boasts more than 100 members.

Mr Holtsbaum focused on their achievements in his address.

‘‘I am a very grateful man to have such good and loyal mates – I only hope our younger veterans can take a leaf out of our book and stay mates as we have.’’

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