Greta Memorial Wall 2

Greta's wall of remembrance


Maitland Mercury

19 Aug, 2011 04:00 AM

Corporal Robert Jackson wasn’t supposed to come home to Greta from Vietnam on “R and R” (rest and relaxation) in January, 1970.

He had landed in the war-torn country only the year before; but two US soldiers were killed and there were spare seats on the plane home.

So he made a quick trip home to his young bride, Betty, and their 18 month old daughter Karen. And he left behind another little piece of himself in his newly pregnant wife. A month later, aged 25, he was killed.

Mr Jackson’s widow, now Betty Legge, from Metford, describes daughter Robyn as a miracle. Mr Jackson died on February 28, 1970, when he was walking to a US helicopter that triggered land mines as it landed. He was killed in the explosion.

Robyn was born on October 29, 1970. “Doctors kept telling me I’d never carry the baby, it’d been too big a shock,” Mrs Legge said. “But I said no, I want this baby.”

And there have been plenty of battles for Mrs Legge and her girls since, from Mr Jackson’s burial in Greta without military ceremony because Vietnam wasn’t then recognised as a war; and a legal battle over her entitlements as a war widow.

But they clocked up another victory on Thursday, when Mr Jackson was listed as one of 16 men from Greta or with ties to Greta who enlisted in Vietnam.

The first names on the Greta RSL Sub-Branch’s Wall of Remembrance were unveiled at a ceremony at the Greta Cenotaph on Thursday to mark the Vietnam Veterans and Ex-Services Day, which coincided with the 45th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.

Mrs Legge said her young husband was overlooked for recognition for his service in Greta because he was born in Sydney.

“We fought for years for this, but they told us he wasn’t from Greta,” she said.  “This is more for the girls now they’ve got children; they can come and see the wall and see his name there.”

The late Robert Jackson’s family Robyn Richards, Betty Legge and Karen Stackman at the unveiling of the Greta RSL Sub-Branch’s Wall of Remembrance.