Vietnam veterans given key to the city

Saskia AdystiAlbany Advertiser
City of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington with former commanding officer John Fenton.
Camera IconCity of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington with former commanding officer John Fenton. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

The City of Albany has given its highest honour to Vietnam War veterans in the form of the Key to the City to thank them for their service.

It is the first time the City of Albany has granted anyone the Key to the City —a tradition that dates back to medieval times.

The key was handed over to the commanding officer of the 17 Construction Squadron Workshop Association.

The 17 Construction Squadron Workshop was deployed to South Vietnam in April, 1966 to maintain the equipment of the 17 Construction Squadron Australian Engineers.

They serviced bulldozers, tippers, graders and other plant and equipment.

More than 100 veterans and their partners travelled to Albany on Wednesday for the association’s reunion.

President 17 Construction Squadron Workshop Vietnam Association', George Jones.
Camera IconPresident 17 Construction Squadron Workshop Vietnam Association', George Jones. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

As part of the ceremony, the squadron marched from Alison Hartman Garden to the Albany Town Hall, where Mayor Dennis Wellington presented the key.

Mr Wellington acknowledged the commitment and contribution of all those who served in the Vietnam War. “The granting of the Key to the City is a symbolic presentation which represents the highest honour which the City can confer to an individual or an organisation,” he said.

“To those who served in the squadron, to all of those who serve overseas, you all enable us to have the lifestyle that we have today.

“This is why we thank you for your service. It will never go unnoticed.”

President 17 Construction Squadron Workshop Vietnam Association, George Jones, secretary Garry Whykes and former commanding officer John Fenton.
Camera IconPresident 17 Construction Squadron Workshop Vietnam Association, George Jones, secretary Garry Whykes and former commanding officer John Fenton. Credit: Laurie Benson/Pictures: Laurie Benson, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Commanding officer Major John Fenton thanked the mayor and the council for their generosity.

“Albany, more than any other city or town, is the keeper of the Australian military history,” he said.

“Sadly for many, as they sailed out of King George Sound, it was to be the last sight of their homeland as they never returned from the carnage of Gallipoli, Flanders and the Somme.”

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