War hero Christopher Clark finally coming home after 50 year wait

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After waiting for more than 50 years, the family of Campbelltown Private Christopher Clark will watch their dream come true when his body is finally returned home to Australian soil during one of the largest single repatriations of servicemen and personnel in the nation’s history.

Pte Clark’s two brothers, sister and their spouses will travel to RAAF Richmond on Thursday for the emotion-charged return of the 33 service personnel, many of whom were casualties of the Vietnam War, and had been buried for decades in cemeteries in Malaysia and Singapore.

Younger brother Kevin Clark said it has been a long road home for his brother, who was killed in action at age 20 during the Vietnam War in 1966, and the family was very pleased to be getting him and the other boys home for a proper burial.

“There will be sadness and tears and feelings that it’s the end of a long road. We’re finally getting him home,’’ Mr Clark said.

“It’s not closure, it’s the end of a chapter.

“I feel very proud of him and of all the boys who served their country’’

After waiting for more than 50 years, the family of Campbelltown Private Christopher Clark will watch their dream come true when his body is finally returned home to Australian soil during one of the largest single repatriations of servicemen and personnel in the nation’s history.

Pte Clark’s two brothers, sister and their spouses will travel to RAAF Richmond on Thursday for the emotion-charged return of the 33 service personnel, many of whom were casualties of the Vietnam War, and had been buried for decades in cemeteries in Malaysia and Singapore.

Younger brother Kevin Clark said it has been a long road home for his brother, who was killed in action at age 20 during the Vietnam War in 1966, and the family was very pleased to be getting him and the other boys home for a proper burial.

“There will be sadness and tears and feelings that it’s the end of a long road. We’re finally getting him home,’’ Mr Clark said.

“It’s not closure, it’s the end of a chapter.

“I feel very proud of him and of all the boys who served their country’’

Pte Clark, who was part of the Royal Australian Regiment 1st Battalion, was killed while trying to save a mate’s life during an American search and destroy operation in Ben Cat in the Binh Duong Province, an area 56km north west of Saigon, on January 8, 1966.

He died two months shy of his 21st birthday and was buried at the Terendak Military Cemetery, in Malaysia, resulting in his family being unable to visit him and pay their respects.

Mr Clark said the family had no hesitation in accepting the Federal Government’s offer when it was made to the families of personnel interred at Terendak and the Kranjii War Cemetery in Singapore.

“If Chris had been interred in France or in Gallipoli in the war cemetery with his mates, (we would not have accepted the offer) but he was left in Terendak and this is why we wanted to get him home,’’ he said.

The service personnel will be given a hero’s welcome and arrive on two Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft at RAAF Richmond where a formal military repatriation ceremony will be held.

The formal ceremony will be followed by a private memorial service for the families who are being reunited with their loved ones.

Mr Clark, who now lives in Melbourne, said Pte Clark will then be interred at Woden Cemetery in Canberra on Monday, June 6.

“It’s a central point between where all the family live and a place where everyone, the cousins, nieces and nephews, can go and pay their respects,’’ Mr Clark said.

Mr Clark said his brother joined the Army at age 19.

He was 16 when Pte Clark was killed and remembers him as a typical 1960s larrikin.

“He was not a trouble maker, he was a larrikin who loved his family, he loved our Mum Nelly and our Dad Stan,’’ he said.

Mr Clark joined the Navy in 1965 and the two brothers used to write to each other during the war.

He said Thursday’s repatriation would be the culmination of a lot of work by a lot of people and he was grateful for their efforts.

 

BRING THEM HOME MISSION: A CREDIT TO VETERANS

THE repatriation of the bodies of 33 Australian service personnel to home soil was a testament to the perseverance of veterans, Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia national president Ken Foster said.

Mr Foster, of Minto, said the return of the bodies of the servicemen on Thursday was the culmination of more than three years of lobbying by the veterans community.

The Bring Them Home campaign started with a petition from the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia Northern Territory branch before it won the support of other Vietnam Veterans Associations and gained momentum.

Mr Foster met with then Federal Veterans Affairs Minister Michael Ronaldson to discuss the repatriation and was part of discussions which started with the ex-service community in late 2014.

“We wanted to make sure there would be no conflict in the approach and that no pressure would be put on families,’’ he said.

Mr Foster returned to Canberra when the Federal Government announced its repatriation offer to families in May last year.

He will witness Thursday’s arrival of the remains of 33 soldiers to RAAF Richmond for a formal repatriation ceremony, saying it would be highly emotional.

The convoy of hearses will travel from RAAF Richmond to Parramatta before it is dispersed and he encouraged residents to line the route and show their support.

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Jan McQuillan says

    To the
    To the Clark Family
    Wonderfull to see that Christopher is finely home. I was tole by my
    husband Carey so many storys the time they spent together.they were bests of mates.
    They are all at peace now.
    My love and thoughts are with you all.
    Less we forget.
    Jan McQuillan

    To

    the C

  2. Adrian (Eddy ) Tesler says

    Great news that Christopher Clark is finally coming home. Still remember when he and Merv Wilson were killed, was a sad day for the medical platoon, they were damn good blokes and mates.