50 Years on from the Battle of Coral – Why the legacy of our Vietnam Diggers still resonates at Glenelg Surf Life Club.
50 years on from the Battle of Coral many Vietnam Veterans gather. The aim to commemorate 50 years on since Australia’s ‘mini Tet Offensive’ of Vietnam War will highlight the role of the Battle and the bravery of Australian troops in the Vietnam War. In this battle Australia’s grit, enterprising nature, determination and resilience were on show. It was a tough battle illustrating Australia’s efforts, against the odds, to protect each other and ‘hold the line’.
It is fitting a local hero is celebrated in this year at the Australian War Memorials Last Post Ceremony, May 25. Just like the Battle of Coral our hero is not known to many. His quiet unassuming role is atypical of those our hero who served and those our hero served with. Some 49 years on the since his passing on those ‘bloody battlefields of Vietnam’. Private Alexander Remeljej (Rem, to his mates) and Glenelg Surf Life Saving Club Member will finally be reunited with some of his 5 RAR and Glenelg Surf Life Saving Club Members (GSLSC) after being killed in Vietnam in 1969.
The significance of the Ceremony for Rem and his 5RAR and Glenelg Surf Life Saving Club comrades will be found in celebrating his conscientious, enterprising and selfless characteristics that supported his unit and Club. These were illustrated in his actions when on the 11/4/1969 killed in Action defending a forward position in Phuoc Tui Province, Vietnam. In this action Rem took the full brunt of the enemy, the North Vietnamese and was killed in action. Many believe he took on the enemy to signal to his base the enemy were in close proximity.
In hearing of Rem’s supreme sacrifice the GSLSC commissioned a trophy for one of its favourite sons.
The trophy a likeness of Rem, carved from drift wood, has been awarded to the member that best displayed Rem’s characteristics. This trophy, the GSLSC, most significant has been awarded since 1971. Since its inception at the Awards Night 46 years ago in 1972, there have now been 25 individual winners (includes this year). Of these, 15 past winners remain “relevant” to the Club in terms of currency, attendance, committee work and patronage at/for the Club.
Georgina Cole Glenelg Surf Club President, herself a two time winner, said; “what a fantastic event to be able to bring the 5RAR and members of the Glenelg Surf Life Saving Club together to celebrate and reflect on Rem’s life and service”.
Members of Rem’s 5RAR and Glenelg Surf Life Saving Club will be in attendance in Canberra on May 25. At this commemoration will be a 2nd generation of Surf Life Savers from Rem’s family, Samuel and Annabel as well as Rem’s former Club mates Brenton Quimby. Peter Marshall and Barrie Wooldridge.
The ceremony will be broadcast live here: https://www.youtube.com/user/AustWarMemorial/live