Repatriation of Australians will help bring closure

YESTERDAY'S repatriation of 33 Australians, including 25 servicemen and eight dependants, will help bring closure to their families and the country, said Minister for Defence Marise Payne and Minister for Veterans' Affairs Dan Tehan.

Aircraft bearing the returning Australians from the Terendak Military Cemetery in Malaysia and the Kranji Cemetery in Singapore are due to land at the RAAF Base Richmond in Sydney today at about 10.30am.   

Minister Payne said the Australians would be welcomed home in a military repatriation ceremony followed by a memorial service for families attended by His Excellency the Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, friends and former colleagues.  

"Today's ceremony is an opportunity to commemorate the sacrifice of the men and women who serve in our armed forces and the families who support them," Minister Payne said.  

"For the families of those whose loved ones are returning to them and the veterans and mates who served alongside them, I hope today will bring some solace and closure."  

Minister Tehan said 22 soldiers killed in the Vietnam War were among the returning Australians.  

"We owe the same debt to our Vietnam veterans that we owe to every Australian who fights in our name," Minister Tehan said.  

"As a country we could have done more to honour that debt to our Vietnam veterans and today's repatriation is a chance to right that historical wrong.  

"I would like to take this opportunity to record my thanks and the gratitude of the Australian Government to the men and women who served our country in Vietnam."  

The procession will travel via Church Street - George Street - Smith Street - Station Street - Parkes Street and arrive at Parramatta CBD at around 12:45pm.  

The public is invited to view the procession and pay their respects along the route and they should be in position by 12.30pm. Motorists using these roads at that time are asked for patience if they experience some delays.  

Reinterment services will then take place in every State and Territory, except Tasmania, over the following weeks, in accordance with the families' wishes.

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