AFTER fighting in Vietnam in 1969, Ted Ruska returned to Australia expecting a hero's welcome.

But upon touching down in Sydney, he ended up crawling out of the airport covered in filth from a hostile anti-war crowd.

Mr Ruska was one of dozens who attended the Maryborough Cenotaph yesterday to pay his respects to soldiers who lost their lives and made tremendous sacrifices in the Battle of Long Tan in 1966.

Eighteen Australian soldiers were killed and 24 wounded, it is remembered as one of Australia's deadliest conflicts during the war.

REMEMBERING: Former Vietnam SAS soldier Ted Ruksa pays his respects to fallen comrades at the Maryborough Cenotaph during Long Tan Day yesterday.
REMEMBERING: Former Vietnam SAS soldier Ted Ruksa pays his respects to fallen comrades at the Maryborough Cenotaph during Long Tan Day yesterday. Blake Antrobus

Mr Ruska served as part of the SAS, gathering intelligence for American and Australian soldiers during the 1960s.

He was gutted by the reaction of the public when he returned home,. He said no taxi drivers except for an elderly Italian gentleman, would let him in.

"I was devastated, I thought I should have stayed in Vietnam rather than come home," he said.

"But many people have come to realise that it wasn't the diggers who were at fault.

"They realise Australian serviceman served their country well, they live up to the Anzac tradition and they will continue to do so."

Long Tan Day is important for Mr Ruska, who said it was about making sure people remember the lives lost on foreign soil.



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