As his neighbour Howard Bye puts it, Wally Buckland is a bloke you don’t forget.
Little wonder then that when the Vietnam War veteran turned 80 on Monday, neighbours, friends and Waminda Aged Care facility staff helped him celebrate in style.
Mr Buckland, a resident at the facility for the past two months, suffers dementia. But he was in no doubt he was the centre of attention on his big day.
Captain Thomas Neverauskus and Sergeant Christopher Saetta from Long Tan Company at Royal Military College, Duntroon, made a special visit to wish Mr Buckland a happy birthday.
“We heard it was a special event, having seen it on social media,” Captain Neverauskus said.
“We hope he receives a lot of visitors.”
Mr Buckland is believed to be Goulburn’s only survivor of the Battle of Long Tan.
Mr Bye said he had a proud 20-year long Army service. He undertook two tours of duty of Vietnam in 1966-67 and 1971.
In the early 1970s he served with the Survey Corp in New Guinea prior to its independence.
By the time he left the Army he had risen to the rank of Sergeant and had won four unit citations. One of these was the US presidential citation.
“He’s a knockabout bloke and a very well liked fellow,” Mr Bye said.
“He’s had message from all over Australia and from people who served with him.”
Mr Buckland was born in Young but grew up in Goulburn. He attended Goulburn North Public School and Goulburn High before working in various jobs in Australia and New Zealand.
He was a Private in the Army by age 27.
In his retirement, he’s enjoyed the help and support of friends such as Les Reko and neighbours and Helen and Peter Corby, the latter of whom look after Mr Buckland’s dog, Kelly, and bring it on visits.
Waminda Care manager, Kathy Price said Mr Buckland had settled well into the facility and his health had improved.
“He’s a very popular resident,” she said.
Staff filled a book with the many birthday messages as part of the celebrations.
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