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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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Tuesday, 26 May 2015
VA048

VETERANS RETURN TO WW2 BATTLEFIELDS 70 YEARS ON

Eight veterans will return to Borneo next month to mark the 70th anniversary of an important campaign of the Second World War.

Liberating the people of Borneo from Japanese occupation involved more than 75,000 Australians supporting the Oboe landings on Borneo from May to July 1945 – including the largest Australian amphibious landing of the Second World War.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator the Hon Michael Ronaldson, said the eight veterans represented all service arms and major aspects of the landings. They are aged from 89 to 96 years old and are from across Australia.

“I am pleased to be able to share this journey with these fine men and reflect on all those who served and died in the Pacific campaigns during the Second World War and those who continue to live with the scars of their service today,” Senator Ronaldson said.

Over nine days, 4–12 June, the veterans will travel to Singapore and across Borneo to significant wartime locations.

They will participate in commemorative ceremonies at the Kranji Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Singapore, the Balikpapan Memorial, the Tarakan Memorial, the Labuan Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Malaysia and the Brunei-Australia Memorial.

“For many of the veterans, it will be their first time back to Borneo since the War and while the journey will no doubt bring back mixed emotions, it will also be an opportunity for them to honour lost mates and share their stories with Australia,” Senator Ronaldson said.

“During the Anzac Centenary period it is especially important to reflect on the contribution of all Australian servicemen and women past and present.

“As a nation, we must ensure that we take this opportunity to remember and to educate younger Australians about our nation’s century of service, encompassing all wars, conflicts and peace operations,” 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.

Departure media opportunity – media are invited to attend a wreath-laying ceremony and meet the veterans before they depart at the Second World War Memorial Statue, Anzac Square, Brisbane at 1000 Wednesday 3 June. Entry to the memorial is via Adelaide Street.

Media inquiries: Minister Ronaldson: Mark Lee 02 6277 7820 or 0408 547 381

Veteran interviews: Emma Collien emma.collien@dva.gov.au or 02 6289 4787 or
+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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