Joe Serre was born on the 27 August, 1947. He joined the Royal Australian Navy on the 21 September, 1964 for 9 years. Following training, and a number of Shore Base postings, he was deployed to HMAS Melbourne on the 11 January, 1965. He served on and off the ship for the following 7 months. Although he signed for 9 years, he was discharged on application after 5 years, for personal reasons in 1969.
Serre is a lily gilder, an attention seeker, and a glory hunter.
The above photograph, from the Cairns Post, shows a solemn Joe Serre posing for the camera, whilst reflecting back on his Vietnam service on HMAS Melbourne. This photograph was taken at the Cairns Esplanade Cenotaph on Vietnam Veterans Day.
HMAS Melbourne was a Royal Australian Navy Aircraft Carrier that conducted a number of good will tours around the Far East in the period Serre was a member of the crew. It also conducted South East Asia Treaty Organisation exercises and was a member of the Far East Strategic Reserve. (FESR.)
During February and May, 1965, Melbourne served in the Malay Peninsula area and Singapore.
In late May, 1965, whilst in the Singapore area, Melbourne joined company with HMAS Sydney. Sydney was a former Aircraft Carrier, but later converted into a troop and transport ship for purposes of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. At this time, Sydney was en route to Vung Tau, South Vietnam, with troops and supplies for the Australian War effort.
Melbourne accompanied the Sydney to a safe area just outside Vietnam territorial waters. Melbourne stayed in this safe haven for a period of about four days. It was never deployed into the prescribed war zone theatre, or anywhere near land.
FROM RAN RECORDS. – HMAS MELBOURNE.
On 27 March she contributed to Exercise SHOWPIECE off Singapore designed to impress upon the political and military leaders of the region the continued strength and readiness of the British Far East Fleet. She joined HMAS Sydney (III)’s escort force for four days during the troop carrier’s voyage to Vietnam in early June, and arrived back home in Sydney later in the month
However, although not assigned to the theatre, years down the track, and as a result of multiple submissions by Naval Associations, the crew of Melbourne were later accredited with 23 days active service for this escort voyage by Department of Defence. This period included from the date they sailed from the previous port (Singapore) until they reached the next one, which was Sydney, Australia.
Following the representations, in 1993 the crew were entitled to the new award of the Vietnam Logistic Support Medal for the Sydney escort voyage in May, 1965.
In 1997 the crew were entitled to the new award of Australian Active Service Medal 1945-1975, and Return from Active Service Badge for the same escort voyage.
In 1995, the crew were entitled to apply for Australian Service Medal and clasp, for their time in the Malaysian Peninsula and Singapore. Prior to that, the General Service Medal was awarded for that conflict.
Following the commemoration of Vietnam Veterans Day at Cairns, in Northern Queensland, the below mentioned story with his photograph appeared in the The Cairns Post.
Serre was quoted in this article headed as follows -;
VIETNAM VETS STAND TALL TO ATTEND A CEREMONY AT THE CAIRNS ESPLANADE CENOTAPH
Joe Serre served in the Royal Australian Navy during the conflict and was one of the first troops to be involved in the struggle in 1965.
“It took me 30 years before I finally took pride in our country and of what we did, and learnt not to be ashamed of it,” he said.
“We were called a lot of bad things when we got back, but the main thing to remember is we live in a great country and we should be proud.”
In this article Serre claims he was one of the first troops to be involved in the struggle in 1965. Serre did not go anywhere near the coastline and it is doubtful he would have seen anything of a war like nature. He states that he“was called a lot of bad things when we got back”
When Serre returned to Sydney onboard Melbourne on the 22 June, 1965, the crew were not officially publicaly recognised as having served in the South Vietnam war zone for that 4 day escort voyage. They were also not eligible for any medals for that trip. That came later in 1993, when they were awarded 23 days active service for the 4 days outside South Vietnam territorial waters.
No one would have known whether Serre, or the Melbourne went anywhere near the vicinity of South Vietnam when he returned home.
Serre seized an opportunity for the above photograph and his war story to be placed in his local Cairns paper for his own self serving purposes. His story of being called "a lot of bad things when we got back is rubbish."
There were no anti war protests in 1965, and the majority of the Australian population were supportive of our military commitment to the problems facing the Government of South Vietnam at the time. The first Australian anti Vietnam war moratoriums did not take place until May, 1970. Serre was discharged early from the Navy in November, 1969. At that time, his Vietnam medals, (AASM and VLSM) had not been proclaimed.
Serre spent 4 days on a tropical voyage without facing any danger, and he expects us all to believe that he is some sort of trail blazer who was subjected to ridicule for his minimal service.
We get dozens of emails from former Australian soldiers who roughed it “in country”in Vietnam, and Australian sailors who served on the gun line for 6 months, who are disgusted with individuals who seek notoriety and public recognition for very basic service. In this case 4 days in a safe area outside the Territorial waters of the Republic of South Vietnam.
There is an old saying that those who saw the least tend to spruik the most. Serre falls into that category.
ANZMI are here to put things into their proper perspective.
We hope Joe Serre finally remembers his true military service, and leaves the glory to others who are far more qualified to speak about their Vietnam service to Journalists.