In a heartwarming tale of goodwill spanning continents, a group of compassionate citizens from Bowen have come together to answer the call of duty for Padre E. Bennett, the chaplain serving with the Australian Task Force in Phuoc Tuy Province, Vietnam.

It's a journey of compassion and solidarity that stretches thousands of miles, connecting the quiet town of Bowen to the remote landscapes of Phuoc Tuy Province in Vietnam. The effort, however, has not been in vain as it is all for a noble cause — to provide a bell for the Chapel of All Saints, a chapel Padre Bennett and other chaplains share within the Task Force's operational area.

The Chapel of All Saints, although far from the grandeur of modern church architecture or the historical significance of ancient stone and spires, holds immense value for the Diggers stationed in Phuoc Tuy. Before it became the place of worship for the Task Force, it was an old mill, weathered by time and the harsh realities of war. Yet, for the servicemen and women, it offered a more solemn sanctuary than a simple tent with a muddy floor. Services and Requiem Masses held within its walls held a unique solemnity that one might not find even in the grandest cathedrals.

Padre Bennett had a vision for his humble old mill church — he wanted a bell to grace the Chapel of All Saints. In a land where deserted churches were scattered, some of them still possessing bells, requisitioning such an artifact was not a straightforward endeavor, even in the war-torn landscapes of Vietnam.

A year ago, fortune smiled upon the Australian First Battalion when they realized they had spent enough time in Vietnam for church bells to once again chime. With that as inspiration, PIX, the publication setting out on this charitable mission, embarked on a quest to find a suitable bell for the Australian Vietnam Task Force Chapel in Phuoc Tuy.

Their initial hope was to locate an old ship's bell, but it soon became apparent that convincing old sea captains to part with their cherished bells was as difficult as extracting oysters from a rock.

However, the turning point in this heartfelt mission occurred right in Bowen, North Queensland. The story of PIX's endeavor was shared with the members of the local Lions club, a community organization consisting of just 24 members. The compassionate Lions, recognizing the significance of the project, decided to make it their mission.

The opportunity presented itself when the Bowen Fire Department transitioned into the jet age, installing a siren to summon volunteer firefighters. The Bowen firefighters willingly handed over their old fire bell to the Lions Club for the Diggers in Vietnam. This generous contribution, while deeply appreciated, posed a logistical challenge for the Chapel of All Saints, as the old mill structure would need reinforcement to handle the bell's weight.

The Bowen bell, weighing over 100 pounds and boasting an 18-inch diameter mouth, took the breath away from an R.A.A.F. officer who had generously offered to fly it to Vietnam — provided PIX could find one. Nonetheless, the R.A.A.F. remained steadfast in its promise and took on the task of transporting the bell. It will journey from Bowen to Phuoc Tuy via a Hercules aircraft, followed by a Caribou transport plane, and finally, a helicopter to reach its destination at the task force headquarters.

When the bell finally tolls over the jungles and rubber plantations of Phuoc Tuy, it is certain that the spirit of Bowen, embodied by its fire-conscious citizens, will resonate in every ring. There will be no shortage of eager Diggers from Bowen and beyond, ready to fill the pews and offer their thanks for this remarkable symbol of unity and support.