Mullen Welcomes Australia’s Gift for Vietnam Memorial

WASHINGTON, March 7, 2011 — Not­ing Australia’s con­tri­bu­tions along­side U.S. ser­vice mem­bers in the Viet­nam War, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today wel­comed an Aus­tralian gift that will enhance that war’s memo­r­i­al here.
Dur­ing a ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mo­ny at the Lin­coln Memo­r­i­al, where Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Julia Gillard announced her nation would donate $3 mil­lion toward an edu­ca­tion cen­ter at the Viet­nam Vet­er­ans Memo­r­i­al, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen cit­ed the long rela­tion­ship between Aus­tralia and the Unit­ed States.

Some 60,000 Aus­tralians served in Viet­nam, the chair­man said, and 521 were killed. 

“We remem­ber Aus­tralians’ sac­ri­fice as we do our own,” he said. “And this edu­ca­tion cen­ter will remind future gen­er­a­tions of Aus­tralians and Amer­i­cans, and indeed every nation, about the sac­ri­fices of all those who served in Vietnam.” 

The Unit­ed States and Aus­tralia share a strong affin­i­ty, his­tor­i­cal roots, strong demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions and cul­tures bol­stered by immi­grants hail­ing from lands around the globe, Mullen said. The two nations are the clos­est of allies, he added, fight­ing along­side each oth­er in every con­flict from World War I on. 

“Since the Great White Fleet sailed into Syd­ney Har­bor more than 100 years ago,” said Mullen, who served in Viet­nam ear­ly in his career, “our mil­i­taries have like­wise enjoyed a strong bond based on pro­fes­sion­al­ism, cour­tesy and respect.” 

Aus­tralia is the first gov­ern­ment insti­tu­tion to con­tribute to the Viet­nam Vet­er­ans Memo­r­i­al Fund toward the con­struc­tion of the under­ground edu­ca­tion cen­ter. Con­gress autho­rized the cen­ter in 2003. The Viet­nam Vet­er­ans Memo­r­i­al was ded­i­cat­ed in 1982, locat­ed just yards from the Lin­coln Memorial. 

The memo­r­i­al lists the names of all Amer­i­cans killed or miss­ing dur­ing the Viet­nam War. A native-born Australian’s name is etched on the memo­r­i­al. John Louis Molyneaux Jr., whose name appears on Pan­el 45W, Row 15, served as a first lieu­tenant in the U.S. Marines Corps and died on Aug. 31, 1968, in Quang Nam province, South Vietnam. 

“It sym­bol­izes so much about the Viet­nam era for both of our coun­tries,” Gillard said. “To enter into, and [to] reflect with­in and emerge from the memo­r­i­al, is an emo­tion­al jour­ney for anyone.” 

In a news release announc­ing the event, Jan C. Scrug­gs, founder and pres­i­dent of the Viet­nam Vet­er­ans Memo­r­i­al Fund, said Aus­tralia is the first gov­ern­ment insti­tu­tion to donate to the edu­ca­tion cen­ter, and the dona­tion marks the center’s first for­eign gift. 

“The Aus­tralians were our stead­fast allies dur­ing the Viet­nam War,” Scrug­gs said. “We are grat­i­fied that the Aus­tralian peo­ple feel so deeply about help­ing us build the Edu­ca­tion Cen­ter at The Wall to hon­or all who served and sac­ri­ficed dur­ing that war. We wel­come their part­ner­ship once again in this impor­tant endeavor.” 

Retired Army Gen. Bar­ry McCaf­frey — who served in Viet­nam and chairs the edu­ca­tion center’s advi­so­ry board — also spoke at the ceremony. 

“We’re going to build this exhib­it and bring to life the mem­o­ries of the 58,000 U.S. troops killed and the 300,000 wound­ed,” he said. 

The Edu­ca­tion Cen­ter at The Wall was con­ceived as a way to put faces to the thou­sands of names on the memo­r­i­al and to edu­cate cur­rent and future gen­er­a­tions about the men and women who gave every­thing for their coun­try, and to tell their sto­ries, offi­cials said. 

Oth­er exhibits will show­case some of the 150,000 items left at the memo­r­i­al in trib­ute and will pro­vide a time­line of events for the Viet­nam War and the memorial’s con­struc­tion, they added. 

(Ter­ri Moon Cronk of Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice con­tributed to this report.) 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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