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Previous Ministers' releases and speeches - Senator The Hon. Michael Ronaldson

Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Special Minister of State

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Wednesday, 3 June 2015
VA055

VETERANS DEPART FOR 70TH ANNIVERSARY BORNEO MISSION

Eight Australian Second World War veterans will depart for Borneo tomorrow as part of a special commemorative mission marking the 70th anniversary of the last and most complex major Australian operations of the Second World War.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson said he felt privileged to join the veterans on their journey which, for most, would be their first time returning to Borneo since they served there in 1945.

“This commemorative mission will mark the 70th anniversary of the Oboe landings on Borneo – amphibious landing of Australian troops on the Island to liberate its people from Japanese occupation,” Senator Ronaldson said.

Senator Ronaldson said the Mission party, aged between 89 and 96 years-old, included men from across Australia and covered all three Australian Defence Force services.

“I am privileged to share some of this journey with these fine men and reflect on the contribution of all those who served and died in Borneo during the Second World War,” Senator Ronaldson said.

“The Oboe operations, between May and July 1945, involved more than 75,000 Australians. It is an extraordinary honour to return with eight veterans, to honour their service and the service of the thousands of other Australians who were involved in this campaign.” 

Senator Ronaldson said the veterans would participate in several commemorative activities including ceremonies at the Kranji Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Singapore, the Balikpapan Memorial, the Tarakan Memorial, the Labuan Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Malaysia and the Brunei-Australia Memorial.

The veterans will also visit the landing sites of Oboe 1 at Tarakanand Oboe 2 at Balikpapan, the Surrender Point Memorial in Brunei and attend the opening of a multimedia exhibition depicting the shared wartime experiences of the people of Australia and Borneo.

 “On the 70th anniversary of the Borneo campaign, I encourage Australians to reflect on the service and sacrifice of all those involved, including the more than 590 Australians who lost their lives during the Oboe landings. We owe them a great debt of gratitude and promise to never forget them,” Senator Ronaldson said.

Editor’s note: A list of veterans travelling to Borneo is attached. Veteran biographies, images, historical background and other resources are available at www.dva.gov.au/media. Follow the veterans on Facebook at DVA Aus, Twitter at @dvaaus and Flickr at DVA Aus.

Media inquiries:
Minister Ronaldson: Mark Lee 02 6277 7820 or 0408 547 381
Veteran interviews: Emma Collien emma.collien@dva.gov.au +61 (0) 429 129 661 – travelling with the veterans

Veterans travelling to Borneo

Name

Age

Service

Location

Mr Patrick (Pat) Curtis

90

Navy

QLD

Mr Bryan Wearne

90

Navy

VIC

Mr Geoffrey (Geoff) Chapman

91

Army

TAS

Mr Keith Hearne

89

Army

VIC

Mr Kenneth (Brian) Winchcombe

89

Army

WA

Mr Jack Olsson OAM

96

Army

ACT

Mr Thomas (Tom) Tyne

 94

Air Force

NSW

Mr Frederick (Fred) Sharon

89

Air Force

SA

 

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) and Veterans Line can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046

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