Illawarra Vietnam veteran Neil McLean robbed on Remembrance Day

Vietnam veteran Neil McLean woke up to find his caravan and shed had been ransacked. Picture: SYLVIA LIBERItwas a day to remember, but one a Vietnam veteran from Russell Vale would rather forget.

When Neil McLean woke on Tuesday he noticed something out of the ordinary in the backyard.

The door to his caravan was open, despite being secured the night before – a discovery that turned feelings of reflection and celebration into those of utter disbelief.

“They’d smashed the lock on the caravan door and just absolutely ransacked the inside of it – pulled the guts right out of it, everything,” Mr McLean, 71, said.

“I went to my shed and they’d done the same.”

The caravan was parked about five metres from the back door of his house and Mr McLean said he “never heard a word” during the night.

“I couldn’t believe it … it’s very upsetting,” he said.

A “little bit of money” kept in the caravan, possibly about $100, was all that was taken physically, but the vandals successfully dented the veteran’s Remembrance Day.

Mr McLean’s day included a talk with children at a ceremony at the Aspect South Coast School in Corrimal.

“I did that speech but it was a little bit upsetting trying to get up there when the forensics were still at home going through everything,” Mr McLean said.

He joined the Army in 1961 and spent time with a battalion at Holsworthy before leaving for Vietnam in May 1965.

In Vietnam, he was a member of the pioneer platoon that worked with explosives.

After one year and six days he returned to Australia and later became an instructor at the Army Recruit Training Centre Kapooka, near Wagga, until he “got out” in 1970.