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War Veterans honoured by St Columban’s College

Jim Malo chats with Vietnam veteran and former student Dr Graham Maynard
about his experiences as a past student at St Columban’s College and in the
defence force
TWELVE former students who served in the Vietnam War and a World War Two veteran and past staff member were guests of honour at St Columban’s College, Caboolture’s annual Anzac Day Liturgy.

The presence of the war veterans gave current students a glimpse into the sacrifices fellow students from years past made for their country.

Warrant Officer Class One Michael Caughey, OAM, who addressed the assembly, captivated both students and staff with his recount of his role as Regimental Sergeant Major for the exhumation and return of the Australian Unknown Soldier from France and Belgium in 1993.

Former student Charles Bartkus flew in from Rockhampton especially for the day to join with the St Columban's community as they honoured those who served and died in Australia’s defence forces.

He described the ceremony as “a very special and wonderful occasion” and said he thoroughly enjoyed reuniting with former classmates and battalion comrades.

Students carried hand-made white crosses through the centre of the assembly representing past students who were members of the Australian Defence Force who had died while serving their country.

The moving tributes to the fallen soldiers were then placed in the college’s Peace Garden for reflection as Year 10 student Scott Holloway played The Last Post.

Year 12 student Ben Shumack read the poem The Lonely Forward Scout as a tribute to fallen soldier Ray Kermode who was killed in action.

Principal Ann Rebgetz spoke of the veterans’ courage in adversity in facing the war, but also in their return to Australia.

“All have had to deal with the adjustment to society, which was challenging,” she said.

The students were urged to think of their futures and take strength from the heroes who were present amongst us.

“These men were the real heroes as they were willing to risk their lives for our country.

At the end of proceedings the veterans were welcomed on to the stage to receive a gift and a standing ovation from the entire college community.

Many a tear was wiped from an eye.

Brisbane Catholic Education Office

243 Gladstone Road, Dutton Park Q 4102

GPO Box 1201 Brisbane 4001 Australia

Phone: (07) 3033 7000

Fax: (07) 3844 5101