Vietnam Veterans’ Day and the Battle of Long Tan

TODAY on Vietnam Veterans’ Day and the 52nd anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, all Australians are encouraged to pause and reflect on the service and sacrifice of the men and women who served during the Vietnam War.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester will pay his respects to all those who served in the Vietnam War, laying a wreath at the Vietnam Veterans Remembrance Day Service at the National Australian Vietnam Forces Memorial, ANZAC Parade, Canberra.
“The Vietnam War was Australia’s longest military engagement of the 20th Century with almost 60,000 Australians serving during a decade of conflict between 1962 and 1972,” Mr Chester said.
“Each year on the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, Australia commemorates all those who served in the Vietnam War, including the more than 500 Australians who lost their lives.”
“Today we acknowledge and honour all who served in Vietnam during 10 years of war and we honour the veterans who have lost their lives in the years since they returned, those who still carry the physical and emotional scars of their service and the families that have stood by them.”
The Vietnam Veterans Remembrance Day Service in Canberra is organised each year by the Vietnam Veterans and Veterans Federation ACT Inc.
“The Battle of Long Tan, on the 18 August 1966, was one of the fiercest battles fought by Australian soldiers in the Vietnam War. A total of 17 Australians were killed in action and 25 were wounded, one of whom died a few days later,” Mr Chester said.
“I would also like to pay tribute to the Vietnam Veterans’ Association of Australia and the role it played in the establishment of a dedicated counselling service providing specialised mental health and support services to all veterans and their families — the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service, now known as the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS).”
Australians are encouraged to attend the Last Post Ceremony held at the Australian War Memorial at 4:55pm AEST today to commemorate Vietnam Veterans’ Day and the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.
It will remember the service and sacrifice of Petty Officer O’Brian Cedric Ignatious Phillips who served during the Vietnam War in the Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam and was killed in action in a helicopter crash on 21 August 1968, aged 32.

Look back at VP Day, cost of war

LOST in all the media fog over past days was the 73rd anniversary of Victory in the Pacific in World War II.
Japan surrendered on August 14, 1945 after US aircraft dropped atomic weapons on Hiroshima, then Nagasaki.
Until these devastating attacks Japan had shown no inclination to end hostilities, despite Allied preparations to invade the Japanese mainland.
Historians can only speculate what that may have cost in lives and materiel, or whether it would even have succeeded as had the Allied invasion of Europe 14 months earlier.
Victory in Europe was declared on May 8, 1945 when Germany surrendered.
However, despite Japan’s capitulation, formal surrender ceremonies would not happen until September 2, when US General Douglas McArthur formally received Japanese representatives aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

Valley Veterans: What Vietnam Veterans Day means to those who served

·        Mick Birtles DSC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soldiers returning from the Vietnam War look on as a protester covered in red paint interrupts the welcome home parade in Sydney in 1966. Photo by Noel Stubbs, Fairfax Media.

Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War continued longer than any other conflict of the twentieth century.  Beginning as a small commitment in 1962 and concluding in 1975.

Approximately 60,000 Australian’s served in Vietnam with the loss of 500 lives and over 3000 wounded. There was little opposition to our participation in the early years, however this changed as perception grew that the war was being lost and conscripts were increasingly being deployed, killed and wounded.

For many of those returning from Vietnam the public anger regarding this country’s involvement in the conflict was personal. Many were shunned and disrespected by elements within the community.

Through the efforts of Vietnam Veterans and their families, the public conscience eventually came to understand that these men and women had been in Vietnam on the direction of their government and were doing their duty. As an act of national recognition, in 1987 Prime Minister Bob Hawke declared the 18th of August each year would be known as Vietnam Veterans Day.

Accepted and respected

There are many Vietnam Veterans who call the Mid North Coast home and I have spoken to a few to get their thoughts on Vietnam Veterans Day.

Mr Wayne Mason of Stuarts Point, a former National Serviceman served in Vietnam as an Infantry soldier. He considers this day is a time to remember all of those who served and did their duty, irrespective of their views on the conflict.

Mr Bill Shepherd of Nambucca Heads, says he does not think back fondly on his time there but remembers those who were killed in action.

 Mr Bill Shepherd in Vietnam during the war and today at home in Nambucca Heads.

Mr Brian Duncan OAM of Nambucca Heads, served in Vietnam with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR), on the first large deployment of combat troops to Vietnam. He says this day provides comfort to many veterans as it demonstrates they are now accepted and respected by the Australian public.

Each of the three Veterans had a different experience on their return to Australia. Mr Mason recalls arriving back in Australia very late at night and generally being shielded from public view, possibly to avoid protesters.

Mr Shepherd remembers being shunned by one RSL Sub Branch on one occasion as the ‘old and bold’ did not consider Vietnam a war, then being overwhelmingly welcomed by another RSL Sub Branch.

During a welcome home parade for 1 RAR in 1966, Mr Duncan was witness to the much-documented actions of a young lady covering herself with red paint and smearing it on the battalion’s commanding officer.

 Mr Brian Duncan (second from the front) looks on as a protester covered in red paint interrupts the welcome home parade in Sydney in 1966. Photo by Noel Stubbs, Fairfax Media and Mr Duncan OAM at home in Hyland Park, Nambucca Heads.

In response to a question I posed to these gentleman regarding their advice to veterans returning to Australia from recent conflicts, their response was similar.

They recommend accepting any help available, that is intended to assist with integration back into the community, to understand there is help for you and to trust your judgement.

Mr Duncan added it is important not to lose contact with your mates who had been through the experience with you, as it is often they who can best understand issues you may be having and be able to lend a helping hand.

Nambucca Valley commemorations

For the Nambucca Valley the 2018 Vietnam Veterans Day Commemorations will be held at Stuarts Point. The service will begin at 11am (gathering at 10:45 am), August 18, 2018 at the Memorial on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Marine Parade, followed by lunch at the Stuarts Point Bowling Club.

About the author: Mick Birtles is a recently retired army officer now living in Nambucca Heads. During his 36-year career, Birtles served in Bougainville, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for command and leadership. Here he shares his interest in the issues effecting veterans on the Mid North Coast.

Commemoration – 65th Anniversary Korean War Armistice

A national commemorative service to mark the 65th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice will be held on Friday 27 July 2018 at the Australian National Korean War Memorial on Anzac Parade in Canberra.

The Armistice ending three years of fighting on the Korean peninsula was signed on 27 July 1953. The present day border between North and South Korea approximates the border as it was in June 1950 when North Korea invaded the south, beginning a war that pitted the Cold War powers of communist China and the Soviet Union against the United States and her allies, fighting under United Nations’ auspices, in a massive military confrontation.

All three of Australia’s armed services took part in the Korean War. The Royal Australian Navy committed ships four days after the war began; the Royal Australian Air Force’s 77 Squadron was deployed to Korea within a week of the invasion, and the first Australian ground troops arrived in September 1950. Approximately 17,000 Australian personnel served in Korea, including Army and RAAF nurses. Some 340 lost their lives, more than 1,200 were wounded and 30 were taken prisoner.

This is a free event and members of the public are encouraged to attend. This is not a ticketed event and limited, un-allocated seating will be provided for general public. Standing room will be available once the unallocated seating area has reached capacity.

For more information, please email [email protected]

Anzac Day Service at Fort Benning USA

ANZAC Day ceremony in Fort Benning USA at the only memorial in the US that lists the names of Australian KIA. Listed are the names of 1 RAR Group members killed while serving with the 173rd Airborne Brigade (SEP) in Vietnam in 1965-66.

READ MORE  and watch the video

Vietnam Veterans’ Bravery Recognised on Eve of 50th Anniversary – Coral-Balmoral Battle

It’s taken almost half a century but Australian forces who fought in one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War are finally to be recognised for their bravery.

Soldiers who resisted attack at the Battle of Coral-Balmoral,  which claimed 26 Australian lives, learnt on Thursday they were to be honoured with a Unit Citation for Bravery. The recommendation comes ahead of the 50th anniversary of the battle on the weekend of May 12-13.

The Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal posted the decision on its website on Thursday morning, stating that members had arrived at the recommendations unanimously.

It said: ‘Throughout the submissions the theme of teamwork and collective gallantry is readily apparent and consistently referenced.

The message to the Tribunal from all of the veterans of the battles was that, regardless of corps and parent unit, they had fought as a coordinated group and that everybody who was there deserve recognition.’

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Read the DHAAT Report and its five recommendations here

Read the Sydney Morning Herald’s article here

Exhibition – The Battle of Coral and Balmoral – 12 May – 6 June 1968

The Exhibition will be held at the National Vietnam Veterans Museum, Phillip Island Victoria from 5th May – 25 October 2018

 

 

DVA Minister – Kapyong Day Commemorates Landmark Battle of Korean War

KNOWN as Kapyong Day, today recognises the anniversary of a turning point in the Korean War when Australians helped prevent Communist forces from occupying the South Korean capital, Seoul, for the third time in less than a year.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said on this day 67 years ago near the ruined village of Kapyong, United Nations forces fought a successful defensive action that prevented a Chinese breakthrough on a crucial part of the front.

“Kapyong is among the most significant battles that Australian troops fought in Korea, as they conducted a difficult defence and carried out a series of fighting withdrawals while containing the Chinese advance towards Seoul.

“United Nations forces were confronted with a major Chinese offensive in late April 1951. The Chinese attacks through the Kapyong Valley on 23 April threatened to overwhelm the defences, in that area held by Commonwealth and United States forces including the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR).

“Fighting continued throughout the night and following day until the Australians were forced to withdraw to new positions in the rear, a difficult task for units still in contact with the enemy.  Having failed to break through the Commonwealth and United States line, the Chinese abandoned their attacks.”

As well as being remembered as a major victory for United Nations forces, the Battle of Kapyong was one of Australia’s most hard fought battles of the Korean War.

“The Battle of Kapyong was a close fought action in which 32 Australians were killed and 59 were wounded and three taken prisoner. For its part in the battle, 3RAR was awarded a United States Presidential Citation,” Mr Chester said.

“The service and sacrifice of Australians involved in the Korean War and the Battle of Kapyong must never be forgotten.

“We recognise and honour those who have defended our freedoms and values, and their memory will live on.”  

Veterans of the Korean War will be honoured at a national commemoration in Canberra on 27 July 2018 to mark the 65th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. For more details visit www.dva.gov.au.

Video – Spirit of the Anzacs

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Poem – Tic – Toc – Tic – Toc

ANZAC Day is reaching out and is a day when our nation stretches even taller.  Its main streets crowded with young and old mid a sea of waving flags. It is such a precious day which shouts to the world of our national unity and spirit. It is a time when we seek the past to reflect on who we were, are now and what we must strive to be. It is a stark reminder of those we honour who have defended a fortunate life now enjoyed by us. Our sacred duty, today, tomorrow and beyond is to keep it so. 

Today, we are living in what is rapidly becoming a fool’s paradise fertilised by political correctness and growing public apathy. Above all, with few exceptions are the inept politicians at all levels of governments who react far too readily to the demands of a noisy blustering minority within our society.

The consequence of our apathy is that our values of life are slowly but surely being eroded. Health, education and social disciplines are such examples, not forgetting our judicial system where the scales of justice have been tampered with to favour the guilty at the expense of the victims.

There are many contradictions in this frantic Space Age.

Our Politicians talk of unity yet all we hear is “Them and Us”

Once upon a time there was a beating of chests to claim one people, one flag, one nation and yet now we are running out of flagpoles for at least three flags which are to be seen in most government infrastructure. Is that national unity?

In parliament, so much squabbling and chest beating spent on trivia issues as opposed to unified efforts to pursue national matters, desperately in need of urgent repair

Once, free speech was a sacred right and yet now you cannot say what you want to say, without fear of being mocked, accused of racism or even worse.

We cannot sustain our chosen way of life unless we’re prepared to respect and protect it. You know it; I know it; the soldiers marching know it and those men and women from all those past generations who created and defended our nation with their own sweat, blood and tears  would have known it.

 

 

 

 


It’s time to roll up the sleeves and tell our elected political leaders to remove the blinkers and ear muffs. It’s time to tell all of them that enough is enough and take us forward, not as diverse groups but as one with a positive sense of purpose. The first step is for them to shove that political correctness where the sun never shines.   

George Mansford  April 2018

      TICK- TOCK – TICK – TOCK

If you listen carefully as precious time ticks by

You will hear the spirits of our fallen in high pitched cry

Wailing with echoes bouncing to and fro of “Why, oh, why?”

As on wet park benches and gloomy dark streets; the homeless sleep

Gold coins for foreign aid are sent while our poor have none to keep 

Such irony that our past gave all to defend our nation with might  

Yet today, apathy abounds as values are slowly stolen without fight 

Sneaking closer are two legged jackals to steal, tear and bite

Read with awe of Kokoda where outnumbered youth stood fast

Sick, starved, wet and weary; defended our way of life to the last

Hear ghostly groans of despair as they study our space- age forts 

Carjacks, home invasion, terrorists, deadly ice and political rorts

No longer walking the streets at night unless with whistle and mace

In homes, security cameras, alarms and locks are always in place

Forget free speech; “the thought police” tell us what we can say 

Behind smoke screens, chameleons brainwash our young, day by day

Today, recreational drugs and joy riding in stolen cars are part of life

Fearing to be mocked if what you say is distorted as racist strife

The meek knock and wait; for others, red carpet and open door

How can you pay with empty wallets when tax men demand more?

In this maddening, changing place, just remember who’s in charge

Stricken circus clowns tumbling with visions from shimmering mirage

That noise you hear isn’t a Jumbo Jet or Tsunami in full roar

Its bitterness and anger of common folk, growing more and more

Past generations’ sacrifices were for a way of life to follow

Today, many a Judas takes pieces of silver to betray our tomorrow

Blood, sweat and tears is the call and no more national debts to seed

We must unite; regather past dreams and elect True Blues’ to lead

Only then, will we find happiness and pride, not despair and sorrow

Meanwhile, if you listen carefully as precious time ticks by

You will hear spirits of our fallen once more in high pitched cry

Wailing echoes still bouncing to and fro of “Why, oh, why?”

George Mansford ©March 2018