THE 287,000 young men who were called up for National Service were honoured at a memorial service in Townsville yesterday.
About 200 dignitaries, National Servicemen and their families attended the service at Rowes Bay to pay thanks to the service of those who were conscripted to serve Australia between 1951 and 1972.
Poppies were laid to remember the 27 Townsville Nasho’s who have passed away in the year since the last National Servicemen’s Day.
Townsville RSL president Bill Whitburn, who gave the key note address, said National Service was perceived as necessary to bolster the ADF following World War II.
“There is a saying that the past is another country, they do things differently there,” Mr Whitburn said.
“Certainly that is true for Australia in 1964 the year that our government reintroduced a compulsory selective National Service scheme.
”Fears that Australia would be invaded very fresh in the national perception.
“Most adults were supportive in principal of national military service for young men. It provided a way of building character, new skills and military discipline.
“There were also widespread concerns that Australia was vulnerable and most people thought that a larger and therefore more capable army was necessary for our national defence.”
Between 1965 and 1972 over 800,000 men registered for National Service.
Some 63,000 were selected and over 19,000 served in Vietnam.
A total of 143 Nashos were killed in action in Vietnam, 10 more died in accidents, 28 died later of their wounds received in battle, three more from illnesses and one more who remains missing presumed dead.
Mr Whitburn said the day was a chance to remember the 185 National Servicemen who died as a result of their service.
“We do remember those whose contribution was much greater than the rest of us, I speak of those it can be said, all they had they gave,” Mr Whitburn said.
“We are gathered here today, to remember those National Servicemen who lost their lives while serving Australia, to honour their memory.
“The modern ADF stands on the shoulders of all the citizens who put on uniforms from the time of Federation to the World Wars and all the post 1945 operations in Korea, Malaya and Borneo through to the long years in Vietnam and more recent decades in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“That proud record of service includes the contribution of our national servicemen.
“We acknowledge the hardship you went through and your contribution to the spirit of the ADF.”
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said as a garrison town, it was important for residents to stop and reflect on the contribution made by National Servicemen.
“It’s important that we recognise the sacrifices they were prepared to make and a number of them did serve in Vietnam and a number of them died through overseas service,” Cr Hill said.
“This is a small way in our community that we can acknowledge what they did in terms of serving their country.”