A ceremony for veterans

A DAY TO REMEMBER THEM: Temp Major Malcolm Bruce McQualter, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, from Braidwood, was 29 years old when he was killed in the line of duty. Photo: supplied.

A DAY TO REMEMBER THEM: Temp Major Malcolm Bruce McQualter, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, from Braidwood, was 29 years old when he was killed in the line of duty. Photo: supplied.

Vietnam Veterans' Day is 18 August and will be marked in Braidwood by a brief wreath-laying ceremony in the Ryrie Park Anzac Garden at 11.00am on Sunday 18th.

All community members are invited to attend and lay wreaths and tributes if they wish.

The Braidwood RSL Sub-branch is this year remembering a young Braidwood soldier who was killed in tragic but brave circumstances during the Vietnam War.

Temp Major Malcolm Bruce McQualter, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, from Braidwood, was 29 years old when he was killed in the line of duty.

Major McQualter was mortally wounded by a 'jumping jack' mine after the leading armoured personnel carrier (APC) struck a mine and he moved forward to inspect the damage.

It was just after sunrise on 21 Februray 1967 in Phuoc Tuy.

McQualter sustained critical wounds and died in the 3rd US Field Hospital, Saigon, on 5 March 1967.

McQualter had been promoted to Major in June 1965.

He was posted to 5th Batallion RAR which was subsequently warned out for duty to South Vietnam.

He was appointed Commander of B Company, which he led on operations with courage and conviction.

On 21 Februray, 1967, B Company was involved in one of the worse enemy mine incidents of the Vietnam War.

An APC patrolling ahead of the Company with troops on board was blown up by a command-detonated bomb, killing or maiming most on board.

Major McQualter, travelling in an APC to the rear of the incident immediately alighted with his Headquarter team and another platoon to lend assistance and clear the area of further enemy when this element stepped on an M16 anti-personnel mine which created further casualties, including Major McQualter.

He was seriously wounded and evacuated with all of the other casualties but he unfortunately died of his wounds in the 3rd Field Hospital, Saigon less than two weeks later.

In total, there were nine killed and a further 22 wounded, many seriously, in that incident.

Major Malcolm Bruce McQualter was posthumously awarded the following 'Mention in Dispatches':

"Major McQualter has served as a rifle Company Commander with 5th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, in Vietnam for eight months.

At all times and particularly when in contact with the enemy, Major McQualter set a fine example by his courage and disregard for his personal safety.

He placed the welfare, morale and safety of his men above all other requirements and has unselfishly devoted his entire energies to the requirements of his soldiers.

The high standard of efficiency attained by the company is attributed directly to Major McQualter."

The Vietnam War pitted communist North Vietnam and the Viet Cong against South Vietnam and the United States.

The war ended when U.S. forces withdrew in 1973 and Vietnam unified under Communist control two years later.