It was the moment families had waited decades for. This morning, the remains of 33 Australians, most service personnel, were returned to home soil. It was the largest single repatriation this country has undertaken.

Abigail Blaikie reports.


After 50 years; finally, home.

Two 17 Globemaster’s touched down at Richmond Air base this morning.

Retd Lt Col Ian Henderson: “When I saw the smoke of the nose wheel of the second aircraft I thought good, they’re at home.”

A chaplain, a lone piper and drummer led the solemn procession.

The 33 coffins held the bodies of the 25 veterans, two spouses and six children.

There to welcome them, the Governor General, Defence Chiefs, family members and, an honour guard.

Most of the veterans lost their lives in the Vietnam War.

Among them, Lieutenant David Brian, the first person to be buried in the Terendak Cemetery in Malaysia.

Sara Ferguson, War Widow: “It was leaving him there that was the hardest part, he was the only one in that cemetery and I had to walk away and come home without him.”

Before 1966, service personnel who died overseas were buried in the closest accessible ‘Commonwealth’ cemetery.

The cost of having the remains returned was well beyond the reach of most families.

Tonight, the families can finally take their loved ones home and lay them to rest one final time.

Abigail Blaikie, QUT News.