Tributes flow for Vietnam war vet

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Tributes flow for Vietnam war vet

State leaders have paid tribute to late Millicent soldier and Vietnam War veteran Bill Hignett OAM who died in Adelaide last month at the age of 75.

Leading the tributes was South Australian Governor Frances Adamson who described Mr Hignett as a much-respected leader and advocate across the veteran community.

“He also devoted decades to the education sector and worked to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across South Australia,” Her Excellency said at the RSL state conference.

Veteran Affairs Minister Joe Szakacs gave a lengthy speech in the House of Assembly with the family of Mr Hignett present to hear it.

According to Mr Szakacs, Mr Hignett was called up for National Service just after his 20th birthday.

He served 469 days in Vietnam as part of the 86 Transport Platoon of the Royal Australian Army Corps in the early 1970s.

“His dedication to duty and his comrades exemplified the highest ideals of service,” Minister Szakacs said.

“At Bill’s funeral service we heard about his commitment to his comrades and his appreciation for the communities in which he served in South Vietnam.

“We heard that while deployed Bill would teach Vietnamese children the English language in the evenings, such was the kindness of Bill and such was the demonstration of his lifelong commitment to education.

“Returning to South Australia after his service, Bill embarked on an impressive career as an educator and as an advocate.

“His passion for education, particularly in Indigenous communities, was inspiring.

“As an organiser for the Australian Education Union, he worked tirelessly to ensure that all voices were heard, the teaching profession was respected, and that workers organised collectively to find power.

“Bill’s contribution to advancements in Aboriginal education and the Aboriginal community was significant.”

The Minister said the commitment of Mr Hignett to these important issues and causes earned him recognition for the Order of Australia Medal in 2014.

“Bill’s work and advocacy will be long-lasting, but perhaps none more so impactful than his instrumental role in the establishment of the Plympton Veterans Centre in suburban Adelaide,” Minister Szakacs said.

“The centre advocates tirelessly for veterans and their families. Bill initially volunteered support to work at the centre, but soon found himself as a leader.”

Mr Hignett was the founder of the Plympton Veterans’ Centre in suburban Adelaide and the new veterans’ hubs being established at the RSLs at Mount Gambier, Millicent and Coonawarra/ Penola.

According to his army record, Mr Hignett was born at Millicent on March 3, 1949.

A delegation from the Millicent RSL attended his funeral in Adelaide and then paid this public tribute.

“Bill spent many years caring for the welfare of veterans and building services to support them,” stated the Millicent RSL.

“He was a good friend to the Millicent RSL and will be sorely missed.

“Rest in peace digger, knowing that your good works will continue under the guidance of those you served.”

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