Vietnam veteran John McDonough of Goonellabah.
Vietnam veteran John McDonough of Goonellabah. David Nielsen

Veteran off to American dedication

A GOONELLABAH man will be among a group of Australian servicemen attending the dedication of a National Memorial for the United States’ 173rd Airborne Brigade today.

John McDonough, a Vietnam veteran with the 1st Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR), will be among a group of 20 Australian and New Zealanders on hand for the solemn ceremony.

As previously reported in The Northern Star, the 173rd Airborne Memorial will also list the names of foreign soldiers who died while serving with the Brigade.

It is believed to be the first memorial in the United States to list foreign soldiers who died fighting alongside their American allies.

The 1RAR was attached to the Airborne Brigade in Vietnam from June, 1965, forming the third battalion based around the hotly-contested airstrip of Bien Hoa.

It was the first Australian unit to be sent to Vietnam.

“What an honour,” Mr McDonough told The Northern Star previously.

“It’s a great follow-up to the Meritorious Unit Citation that we were awarded a number of years ago. The dedication will be within two or three days of us arriving in Vietnam in 1965, 45 years earlier.”

The US memorial will include the names of the 1643 paratroopers and the 31 Australian and New Zealand soldiers who were killed while serving in Vietnam.

It will also include the 69 American paratroopers who have perished in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The memorial sits on the grounds of the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Centre at Patriot Park, outside Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia.

The circular monument sits on the highest point of the 80-hectare Infantry Museum site overlooking the parade field, on the meandering Memorial Walk of Honour.

“The inclusion of the names of the Australians and the New Zealanders who were killed while under the operational control of the 173rd is truly an honour and an outstanding gesture,” Ray Payne, the Tweed-based International President’s Liaison for the 173rd Airborne, said.

The story of the 173rd will be inscribed beneath the banner of the brigade’s wing and sword insignia grounded in the centre of the stone circle and rising toward the sky.



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