President of the Murwillumbah RSL Sub-Branch, Derek Sims has been awarded with the Meritorious Service Medal.
President of the Murwillumbah RSL Sub-Branch, Derek Sims has been awarded with the Meritorious Service Medal. Jerad Williams

Vietnam veteran honoured

A VIETNAM veteran who lives in Murwillumbah has received the highest honours from the Returned and Services League of Australia.

Derek Sims OAM has been awarded the RSL's Meritorious Service Medal for his commitment to the organisation since he first joined in 1970.

For the last 18 years he has been the president of the Murwillumbah RSL sub branch.

He is also a long-term supporter of Legacy.

Mr Sims said he has seen a lot of changes in the RSL for better and worse.

"There is more interest in people who are in the service right now," Mr Sims said.

"People who were in Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We send packages over to serving men and women."

Mr Sims said it was a big change compared to when Vietnam veterans felt like outsiders in the RSL.

"I wouldn't say it was the organisation. It was individuals in the organisation," he said.

"But it was the same for the Second World War boys and the First World War veterans."

Mr Sims said there were still people who stayed away from the RSL, but it was there to support veterans.

Mr Sims said he was honoured to receive the award.

"It really does mean a lot to me," he said.

"I was nominated for the award by other members of the sub-branch.

"It means a lot when you have the respect of your peers."

Murwillumbah Services Memorial Club director Kevin Cheetham said the medal was the highest award from the league to a member above life membership.

Mr Cheetham said Derek enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in May 1953 and served overseas in Japan and Korea after the war, and served a tour of duty in Vietnam.

"Derek joined the Ingleburn NSW RSL Sub Branch in 1970 whilst serving in Vietnam," Mr Cheetham said.

Mr Sims will receive his medal at RSL State Congress in May 2012.



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