After Peter laid the wreath on behalf of the caravan park chain members Top Tourist Parks went to dinner at the remarkable AustralianWar Memorial.
The venue was amazing with the dinner tables surrounding another great survivor the restored Second World War Lancaster bomber G for George (more than 90 missions over Germany).
Peter, through his Western Australia based company Tubal Pty Ltd has been providing training support and consultancy to the caravan park industry since 1995 so of course he joined the Top Tourist Parks members.
And there at Peter's dinner table was Noel Huggins the radio operator whose call had brought the American Gunship chopper to his rescue. Noel is a member of the Top Tourist Parks chain and runs Boomerang Way Caravan Park, Tocumwal now.
The run of chance went one step further. Noel had a Canberra phone number for Jack Davis which Peter used to call the Army medic who kept him alive.
Doc Davis has an amazing recall, Peter Macdonald told GoSeeAustralia. There I was, I just I rang him just out the blue and he recalled it all.
He told me that at the time he thoughtI would losemy arm, Peter said.
Jack Davistold Peter Macdonald - I had to tornique your arm so tight to stop the bleeding becauseI was afraid you were going to run out of blood, but it was so tight I also thought you would lose your arm through gangrene.
Former Chief of the Defence Forces General Peter Cosgrove (retired) has just released a book called My Story. It is a great straight from the soldier read. He is particularly direct about Vietnam.
The walls reflect battlegrounds
With12 months combat experience as a 9 RAR 5 platoon commander during the Vietnam War hetells it in infantry style - from the ground up.
Cosgrovewon the Military Cross in Vietnam for his actions in the storming ofa bunker system in October 1969. In the Hat Dich area he once fought a point-blank shoot-out with a big group of Viet Cong with one ammunition clip in his M16 rifle. He had unclipped his webbing ammunition belt during a halt and when trouble started forgot to clip it back on.
Cosgrove's reaction is typically forthright - I felt a goose in not grabbing my ammunition belt before dashing into the fray, he says.
In Vietnam if you let your guard down for a moment you would cop it, says the man who commanded the International Forces (INTERFET) in East Timor and helped found a new nation.He retired as Australia's most popular top soldier Chief of the Defence Forces in 2002.
When asked by a journalist as Chief of the Defence Forces whether Australia's involvement in Vietnam was a mistake Peter Cosgrove said -
He admired the courage, exploits and commitment of the people who were there. He said that in retrospect Australia should not have gone.
In My Story he completes his response - All governments face a dilemma in such international challenges, when deciding whether or not to commit their young men and women to danger, in the interests of promoting and securing the national interest.
This is a call the government of the day made back in the 1960's in relation to Vietnam and I respect both the pressures of the day and the undoubtedly deep considerations they engaged in in before committing Australian troops to that war.
My concern is simple. Regardless of the political and ethical considerations of whether a war should have been fought by foreigh troops on the soil of Vietnam (that will always be a matter for endless debate), I remember with sadness that 500 Australians were killed in the war and many more wounded and maimed; over 50,000 Americans lost their lives.
And we left. And we lost. We must not do that with our men and women. Sending troops to war is without doubt the most difficult and agonising decision for any leader.
My advice to leaders is never to make the decision lightly and, having done so, never stop until the outcome is worth the cost, Peter Cosgrove said.
Peter Cosgrove says only soldiers who fought in the Pacific during the Second World War could make a comparison with the experience of Vietnam Veterans.
Many Australians, particularly War Widows and their families,know personally through the experiences of loved ones the truth of Peter Cosgrove's words.
Top Tourist Park members at the War Memorial
Jungle warfare in the Pacific during the Second World War was dirty, deadly, up close and unrelenting in the fear and stress involved.
But Australia should recognise Vietnam was all that and more. Patrols away from support bases went on for four weeks.
Too often Diggers who came through it had the thousand yard stare instilled by constantly facing death day and night over a rifle sight.
Australian support for South Vietnam from the early 1960's was in line with policy to stop the spread of Communism in Europe and Asia.
All nine battalions of 1 Royal Australian Regiment served in the Vietnam taskforce at one time or another, before it was withdrawn in 1971; at the height of Australian involvement it numbered some 8,500 troops.
In January 1968, the Australian Task Force was ordered to occupy an area 12km north of Bien Hoa airforce base with a view to preventing any expected Tet assault. The ATF successfully engaged and defeated the enemy in February (as it did in an offensive in Baria at the same time) and returned to Nui Dat. It was again called on to help defend Bien Hoa in May.
The Communists mounted a major surprise offensive during Tet 1968. This added impetus to the anti-war movement in the U.S., but the Southern Communist units suffered such massive casualities they played a minor role in the war after Tet. By 1969 anti-war protests were gathering momentum in Australia. The Australian Task Force withdrew in December 1971.
In early 1975 the Communists launched a major offensive in the north of South Vietnam and Saigon fell on April 30.
Was it worth it? Peter Macdonald says yes the Domino Theory and Communism was a real threat and international actionstopped itsmomentum he believes.
But when Australia's Vietnam troops returned to Australia political passions were high and some Australians with different viewsabused and spat at them.
Australia's Vietnam Returned Soldiers could not wear their uniforms with honour. Peter Macdonald has had those experiences. But with time all things change.
As GoSeeAustralia stood with the Top Tourist Park members to watch Peter Macdonald lay the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier it was obvious that a great deal of good was done for all concerned.
The characteristics we value most in thepeople of Australia and New Zealand are the legacy we inheritfrom the pain of warand those values werebeing honoured- strength, determination, intelligence, compassion and humor.
We will remember them!
As the New Zealand Herald reports today - Thousands of New Zealanders and Australians gathered in the pre-dawn darkness at Turkey's Gallipoli peninsula to mark 92 years since the ill-fated landing of troops at Anzac Cove.
In the hours before the dawn service, crowds had gathered on the slopes around the ceremonial area at the cove to watch documentaries about the battlefield which gave birth to the Anzac legend
New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters painted a moving picture of the Anzac campaign and urged a commitment to peace.
The Anzacs, who believed they were training for deployment in France, were pitched into an-ill conceived eight-month campaign against Turkey for which few of them were prepared, he said.
They were to learn that courage and natural ability could not compensate for failures in planning, leadership and logistics, he said in remarks broadcast live in both New Zealand and Australia.
Under constant fire from the start, many troops were hit before even making it to shore.
Many more were pinned down on the exposed beach.
The human cost of the campaign was enormous, with over half a million casualties including 130,000 dead, Mr Peters said.
In remembering the suffering and loss on both sides, let us commit ourselves to working for a world where differences between nations can be resolved without resorting to war.
That is the way that we can best honour the men who fought and died here.
Weacknowledge with thanks that research for this feature was done through the Australian War Memorial web site.
Editor's Note also see: