Buried but not forgotten

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Years after the end of the Vietnam War, Australian diggers search for 42 buried Vietnamese soldiers.

John Bryant has been looking for the bodies of Viet Cong soldiers that were buried in a bomb crater during the Battle of Balmoral in April 1968.

All photos sourced and used with permission of John Bryant.

All photos sourced and used with permission of John Bryant.

In 2002 fellow digger, Brian Cleaver, called Bryant about the battle they had been involved in 46 years ago.

“He rang me up knowing I had the photographs and asked me a few questions,” Bryant says. “I told him there were 42 buried in a bomb crater.”

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After making a promise to a Vietnamese man he had met in a little village just outside of the war zone, Cleaver made it his passion to find the North Vietnamese soldiers that he’d killed during the Battle.

“In 2009 we located one body. That body is now in a martyr cemetery,” Bryant says.

“We’ve been looking for the other 42 men we buried in a B52 bomb crater. So far we haven’t located them but we know the area, we just haven’t found the exact spot.”

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Having located 33 relatives of the men that were killed in the battle, Bryant hopes that soon they will find the bodies and can stop digging.

“Hopefully that will happen, then those men can be exhumed or given back to their relatives. The people in this area can know that their martyrs have died in this particular area.”

Relatives of the soldiers have already built a small Buddhist temple at the site in honour of the fallen soldiers.

“That’s all been brought about because of Brian Cleaver.”

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About Author

Nikki Keating

Nicola Keating will graduate this year from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Journalism. Passionate about writing and storytelling, she is currently the literary editor for Brisbane-based street press publication, Sartre Magazine. Nicola's particular interest has always been in foreign news and traveling, taking any opportunity to experience something new. This year has seen her delve into lifestyle and music journalism having worked with news agencies such as the Sunday Mail and U Magazine. While profiling is her first love, Nicola is keen to refine her skills in broadcast, radio and photo journalism.

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