Two years ago, Bairnsdale RSL Sub-branch had 37 members who served during World War Two. There are now just 19.
Among them are 96-year-old Tom Smith from Wiseleigh, Margaret ‘Peggy’ Thorne, also 96, who lives at Nicholson, and Eagle Point’s John ‘Jack’ Macartney, who’s 95.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Gippsland MP Darren Chester this week presented the trio with a special medallion commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of the war on August 15.
“As we approach this special date, we recognise that it will be one of the last opportunities we have as a nation to publicly acknowledge the remaining veterans of the Second World War, of which there are around 12,000 still with us today,” Mr Chester said.
“These brave Australians served our nation in the far corners of the world, fighting in theatres of war from Europe to North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, to Asia and the Pacific, as well as the Australian mainland.
“As a nation, we can never fully repay the debt we owe these amazing men and women but, to mark their service, the Federal Government has produced this Commemorative Medallion and Certificate of Commemoration for our remaining living Second World War veterans.
“This is a way we can say ‘thank you for your service’. It’s a gesture of appreciation from a grateful nation to those who, like Tom, Peggy and Jack, were part of the war effort and worked to protect our way of life.”
Second World War veterans can apply online to receive the Commemorative Medallion and Certificate at dva.gov.au/medallion. Those without internet access can call 02 61918217 during business hours. Families may also apply on behalf of a living veteran.
The medallions and certificates will be distributed during August.