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Australian Vietnam War Veterans Remains Return Home After 42 Years


The bodies of two Australian soldiers have been repatriated almost 42 years after they were killed in battle in Vietnam. Their recovery leaves only four Australians still listed as missing in action in Vietnam. Phil Mercer reports from Sydney.

Lance Corporal Richard Parker and Private Peter Gillson were among 520 Australians lost during the Vietnam War.

They died during clashes east of Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, in November 1965.

Intense enemy fire made it impossible to recover their bodies at the time.

Now, after almost 42 years, their remains have finally been flown home.

They were repatriated on an Australian air force transport plane, which arrived in the northern city of Darwin on Tuesday. Members of the men's families and military and government officials were also on the plane. The remains will be flown to Sydney Wednesday for official ceremonies.

Army Major-General Mark Kelly says the return of the veterans' bodies is an important moment for the country, and the Australian military.

"This is a significant day for the nation of Australia, but from my perspective, particularly the Australian army and the Australian defense force, to close a chapter from our involvement in the Vietnam War," he said.

The graves of Parker and Gillson were discovered earlier this year by a group of Australian Vietnam veterans.

The group has spent the past two years searching the battleground with the help of former Vietnamese soldiers who were fighting against them four decades ago.

More than 7,600 Australians fought in the Vietnam War, alongside the United States.

They were deployed between 1962 and December 1972, when the last Australian combat troops were withdrawn.

Only four Australians now remain listed as missing in action from Vietnam among 520 lost there.