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Alumnus plans tour for vets who served with Australians
STANFORD -- In August 1945, 22-year-old Capt. Dan DeYoung led the small remaining American contingent in Melbourne, Australia, down the main street of that city in an Allied forces victory parade celebrating the end of World War II.
Crowds lined the street, recalls DeYoung - now 72, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, Stanford engineering alumnus and staff retiree. “As the American flag came into view, the clapping, cheers and the roar of the crowd became deafening.”
DeYoung was among hundreds of thousands of American servicemen and women who were stationed or took leaves Down Under during the war. Like many GIs who were there, he has never forgotten the hospitality he and his “mates” received.
Now, DeYoung wants to take a thousand U.S. veterans who served with the Australians in World War II, Korea and Vietnam back to Australia - to participate as honored guests in parades, memorial events and celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
A number of Stanford friends and colleagues are assisting in the effort, including Stanford alumnus L.W. “Bill” Lane, U.S. ambassador to Australia from 1985 to 1989, who served in Australia during World War II as a Navy lieutenant; retired U.S. Air Force Col. Ralph Keller, former head of Stanford's Air Force ROTC unit and later director of the university's career counseling and placement services; and Vice Adm. James Stockdale, senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Invited and hosted by the Australian Returned and Services League, Australia's equivalent of the American Legion, the American veterans and their families will attend “Australia Remembers” commemorative activities in six major cities, carrying the U.S. flag and U.S. unit colors.
The tour will include activities in Melbourne, Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane and Sydney. It will terminate in Canberra at the Australian War Memorial, where the Americans will lay a wreath at the tomb of Australia's unknown soldier and present a gift to Australian veterans as a remembrance of their visit.
DeYoung spent 21 years in the Army before coming to Stanford in 1963. During a 17-year career on campus, he served in the business and finance area and as director of Stanford's support services. For the last several years, as a volunteer, he has headed the campus homeowners organization.
“In war and peace,” DeYoung says, “the United States has had no friend more faithful and supportive than Australia. Australian military and naval forces have been with us in both World Wars, in Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War and even in Somalia.”
The upcoming visit, he says, “is intended to demonstrate our gratitude and admiration for Australia; the bonds of comradeship, respect and high honor in which we hold its veterans; and to pay tribute to the memory of the fallen servicemen and women of both of our countries.”
DeYoung's interest in Australia goes back to May 1942, when, as a member of the 32nd Infantry Division, he landed in Adelaide, South Australia, just a week after the pivotal battle of the Coral Sea had taken place.
After several months of intensive jungle training, his division was moved to New Guinea, where, with the Australian forces, it drove the Japanese back from near Port Moresby to the sea. The engagement marked the southernmost advance of the Japanese forces in World War II.
DeYoung was seriously wounded in December 1942, ending his infantry career. Evacuated to a U.S. Army hospital in Australia, he spent four months recuperating and was discharged to staff duties in several Army headquarters until his return to the United States in 1946. He married an Australian, Lynne Gaynor, in 1944, in Sydney.
Although the “friendly invaders” took home some 12,000 Australian war brides, DeYoung says he and his American comrades were almost always treated with friendship, respect and appreciation for coming to Australia at a time of desperate need.
“Through the war there was a great feeling about Americans,” he recalls. “Someone always wanted to buy us a drink, or take us home for a meal, or take us to the beach or the horse races.
“The warmth and fellowship of Australians to the Americans was and is unmatched. I have continued to find this so over the many years I have returned for visits. And I think we will find a strong reservoir of hospitality among the Australians when we visit again in August.”
Invited to join the tour are military veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam and those who served in the American Red Cross, Merchant Marine or as accredited war correspondents.
Those who wish to join the “Salute to Australia” should contact the Salute to Australia Committee at P.O. Box 8144, Stanford, CA 94309; by phone at 1-800-322-8330, ext. 45, or fax at (415) 269-9189.
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