Narooma RSL sub branch Vietnam veterans were disappointed following the cancellation of the commemorative service marking the 50th anniversary of Operation Ivanhoe and the Battle of Nui Le in the Vietnam war.
The service that was to be held at the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial on Monday, September 20, 2021 was cancelled to ensure the health and safety of veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Launched on September 19, 1971, Operation Ivanhoe was a search and destroy sweep of the area south of the Courtenay rubber plantation led by the 4th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment/New Zealand (ANZAC) Battalion.
The Australian tanks which had supported previous operations had departed from Vung Tau five days earlier to return home.
Operation Ivanhoe saw Australian forces engage in a series of heavy contacts with the battle-hardened 33rd North Vietnamese Army Regiment, including the Battle of Nui Le on September 21, 1971.
Narooma Vietnam veteran Trevor Bennet remembers the battle of Nui Le well.
"It was the last major battle for the Australian's in South Vietnam," he said.
"The enemy were trying to surround us while we were trying to pull back, if we hadn't we would have all been killed.
"Then they started dropping mortars on us and I got hit in the shoulder," he said.
"We were a small group of 30 guys, 16 of which were wounded during the battle," Trevor said. "We had to call in the New Zealand artillery to help us and thanks to the Kiwi's as they came to our aid."
Bennett said the entire Battle of Nui Le only lasted about 30 minutes but his memories of the battle would last forever as would the grief for those who lost loved ones.
Wounded, Trevor Bennett was being loaded on to a helicopter to be choppered out when it was hit by artillery and was forced to take off before Bennett could be properly loaded.
"The helicopter flew us out through the canopy while I was lying in the basket and the enemy were shooting at us.
"It was the scariest part, I felt like a sitting duck."
Trevor was the last man in Narooma to be conscripted to fight in the Vietnam war and he was wounded in the last major battle Australia fought in Vietnam.
Mr Bennett said although Narooma RSL sub branch members were disappointed they were unable travel to Canberra for the 50th commemoration service, they were still able to watch the service on ABC.
The virtual service commemorated all those who served during Operation Ivanhoe including the six Australian servicemen who died the men that were wounded providing the opportunity to reflect on the courage and perseverance that characterised Australians' service in Vietnam.