Vernon (‘Vern’) Cazaly, a final year Parade College student of 1963, and one of 51 Old Paradians known to have served in the Vietnam War, died recently in Devonport at the age of 71.

Vern passed away peacefully on September 30 in the presence of his loving family. He is survived by his wife Lynette, sons Adrian, Simon and Damian, daughter-in-law Amanda and granddaughters Charlotte and Madeline.

The son of the late William and Charlotte (‘Lulla’) Cazaly, Vern, pictured here at around the time of his matriculation, was related to the legendary St Kilda and South Melbourne ruckman Roy Cazaly, and nephew to the long-serving Parade College teacher Br. Walter Moloney.

Throughout his schooling days at East Melbourne, Vern performed as a song and dance man at GTV9 in Bendigo Street, in the early days of variety. In February of 1964, after completing his matriculation at East Melbourne, Vern joined the Australian National Line as a clerk.

On September 28, 1966, Vern was conscripted into the Australian Army and served in the Vietnam War. He was posted to the 1st Battalion at Holsworthy Barracks in New South Wales and was attached to the Battalion for 17 months.

Vern served six months in Vietnam.

A fantastic experience he never forgot was performing as a soloist backed by the Australian Navy Band on board HMAS Sydney, on the voyage to Vietnam.

Upon returning after active service, Vern spent a month at Watsonia Army Barracks and was discharged on September 27, 1968.

Vern returned to his position at ANL for what would be a 21-year career in various senior sea and land roles.

His professional life also took in five years in banking and finance, eight in agricultural exports, and the final years for the Tasmanian Government Economic Development Agency on the North West Coast. He undertook a number of project management roles and served as North West Regional Manager until his retirement on July 6, 2010.

Vern’s passing is already sorely felt at the Devonport Sub Branch of the RSL, as the President, Grant Munday, explained.

“Vern was on the committee for a few years and he was quite active. He contributed for a long time as MC on our Anzac Days and Remembrance Days,” Grant said.

“He was a really lovely, kind bloke and I became pretty good mates with him.

“He was a very smart man too, and when you mention song and dance I know he always enjoyed his singing. He had a good singing voice.”

One of Vern’s old classmates at Parade was Kevin Pilkington, with whom he’d later serve as a Private with the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, in Vietnam in ’68. Another member of Vern’s matriculation year was Dan McCrohan, who also served in Vietnam as a Trooper with the 1st Armoured Personnel Carrier Squadron and A Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment.

In 2016, after he had sought Vern’s whereabouts through the Devonport branch of the RSL, Dan reunited with Vern more than 40 years after their paths last crossed.

Recalling that get-together over dinner in Devonport, Dan conceded circumstance unfortunately did not allow them to reflect as much as they would have liked on their wartime experiences.

“I was with my partner and Vern was with his wife, and when two veterans get together after many years it’s not appropriate to talk about the things that need to be talked about with others there,” Dan said.

“We had to treat the occasion as a normal dinner, but we both knew we needed to get together again to talk more.”

Though circumstance made it difficult for him to attend, Vern was always supportive of the Vietnam Veterans’ annual luncheon convened by the Old Paradians’ Association for former students of the College like him who served.

Vern reconnected with the Association in early 2011. In an email dated January 24 of that year, he wrote;

“I attended Parade in 1962-’63 and spent most of my working life in Tasmania. My uncle was Br Walter ‘Butch’ Moloney.

“I was conscripted into the Army in 1966 and served overseas in Vietnam in 1968 with the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.

“I have been living in Tasmania for the past 33 years and would like to get an update on future reunion dates.”

Described by his son Damian as “a caring, gentle soul that will never be forgotten”, Vern’s funeral service took place at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Stewart Street, Devonport, on October 5, with interment at the Mersey Vale Lawn Cemetery.

Donations to the Leukaemia Foundation were encouraged in Vern’s memory, and members of the Devonport Sub Branch of the RSL wore their medals to the funeral, as a mark of respect to their late comrade.