Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier for the Centenary of ANZAC David Elliott today paid tribute to the outgoing President of the Returned & Services League (NSW Branch) Don Rowe OAM.
Mr Elliott, a former peacekeeper, said he was indebted to Mr Rowe who ensured that post-Vietnam peacekeepers were not treated with the same indignity Vietnam veterans were on their return from operations.
“Don, and his predecessor Rusty Priest, represented a changing of the guard within the RSL,” Mr Elliott said.
“The treatment they received from the veterans’ community on their return from Vietnam will forever stain the history of the League.
“By embracing post-1975 peacekeepers and peacemakers into the League, Don ensured that all veterans, regardless of the theatre of operations they served in, have felt welcomed and at home in the League.
“In his time as RSL President, Don has been integral to the Centenary of ANZAC
commemorations and in restoring the Hyde Park Memorial to the condition originally foreseen by its designer, Bruce Dellit.”
Mr Elliott said the veterans’ community would be poorer for Mr Rowe’s retirement.
“Don’s commitment to the veterans’ community began in 1971, spanning a period of over 40 years,” Mr Elliott said.
“The retirement of such a towering figure from the veterans’ community will be an enormous loss to the defence family.
“I wish Don well in the next stage of his life and thank him for his selfless dedication to the RSL and our nation.”