Remains of two Australian soldiers discovered, 2007
On 8 November 1965 A Company of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment encountered an enemy position in the Tui Gang Toi north-east of Bien Hoa in southern Vietnam. During the ensuing battle two of the company, Lance Corporal Richard Parker and Private Peter Gillson were killed but their bodies could not be recovered.
A Company was unable to return and retrieve the man's bodies and they had remained unrecovered until 2007.
Over several years an Australian veterans group - Operation Aussies Home - had visited the site of that battle in a search for the men's bodies. In April 2007 Operation Aussies Home uncovered and partially recovered human remains that were believed to be those of Richard Parker and Peter Gillson. An Unrecovered War Casualties - Army team was requested and quickly deployed to Vietnam.
The team, along with members of Operation Aussies Home, were into the third day of the excavation when a small piece of Army issue general purpose nylon cord (hutchie cord), the universal means of holding soldiers' identity discs (dog tags) around their neck, was unearthed at the bottom of an excavation pit. The hope of the entire team was that the identity discs belonged to either Lance Corporal Richard 'Tiny' Parker or Private Peter Gillson.
After several days excavation on Friday 27 April 2007, the team had recovered two sets of human remains from a former Viet Cong weapons pit along with artefacts including both men’s ID tags and a Zippo lighter. The team's forensic experts worked to identify the remains which were confirmed as Lance Corporal Parker and Private Gillson. On Monday 30 May 2007, Vietnamese officials and forensic experts in Hanoi confirmed the identification.
On Monday 4 June 2007, the remains of Lance Corporal Parker and Private Gillson were placed into a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C130 by a bearer party of soldiers from 1st Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, escorted with full ceremonial honours for their repatriation to Australia.
Present were Private Gillson's widow, Mrs Lorraine Easton and her son Robert, and representatives from the Department of Veterans' Affairs, Operations Aussies Home and the Vietnamese Veterans' organisation.
After the ramp ceremony, the aircraft left Hanoi and flew to Darwin where the widows of both men and their extended families were able to privately spend some time with them. The C130 continued its journey onto Sydney where a ceremony of welcome was held at RAAF Base Richmond. Several hundred Vietnam War veterans, as well as current serving men and women, were present to welcome home the two Australian soldiers. They were the first of six Australian servicemen who had been unaccounted for from the war in Vietnam.
Lance Corporal Parker is buried in Canberra and Private Gillson is buried in Melbourne.