Anzac veteran's grandson heads off to Vietnam

Smith's Hill High student Jack Simmons at the Vietnam Memorial on Flagstaff Hill. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR
Smith's Hill High student Jack Simmons at the Vietnam Memorial on Flagstaff Hill. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

AS 16-year-old Jack Simmons wanders through the former battlefields of Vung Tau and Long Tan next week he will think of his grandfather Basil Simmons, an Anzac soldier in World War II.

The Smith's Hill High School student is one of 10 recipients of this year's NSW Premier's Anzac Memorial Scholarship.

Tomorrow he will jet off to Ho Chi Minh City for a two-week tour of Vietnam designed to help students learn more about Australia's military history.

Jack's grandfather was a New Zealand soldier who fought alongside Australian troops in World War II, inspiring Jack to apply for the scholarship.

"I wanted to have a better understanding of what war is like as a whole and what it's like to be a soldier," he said.

"It will be very emotional, not just for my grandpa, but for every other Australian and New Zealand soldier - and really every soldier - that has fought for their country in these places."

The tour will take the year 10 and 11 students through former Australian battlefields and military bases, as well as other significant Vietnam war sites like the Cu Chi tunnels and China Beach.

They will be accompanied by Vietnam War veteran Gary McKay and will also get the chance to soak up the sights of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Then on the way home they will visit Singapore to learn about the World War II Battle of Singapore.

Jack said the trip would give him a head start on his HSC modern history course which starts next term.

"It's great timing because I start year 12 next term, so hopefully I'll be able to use this knowledge to help me in my course," he said.

"I'm really excited, but it will also be very emotionally charged and it means a lot because it's a way of remembering those who have served Australia and all countries around the world."


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