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.

Peter Haran 2 RAR – Vietnam Revisisted Videos

Peter Haran served in 2RAR May 67 – June 68 and 3RAR Feb 71 – Oct 71.

The four videos cover his trips back to Nui-Dat .

Climbing Nui Dat – https://youtu.be/NhBBSfGtKn4?list=RDNhBBSfGtKn4

Tracker Dog in a Minefield – https://youtu.be/Xet4ijKvVgo?list=RDNhBBSfGtKn4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Land Mines in the Light Green – https://youtu.be/PUCOHxun7LI?list=RDNhBBSfGtKn4

Red Mud and barbed Wire – https://youtu.be/70YdRgjpIyA?list=RDNhBBSfGtKn4

Opinion – Honouring our bravest heroes

There was once a provision for the award to be rescinded for infamous conduct.
Eight VCs were thus forfeited between 1861 and 1908.
In 1920 King George V insisted no recipient should forfeit his medal no matter how grievous his subsequent actions.
There are just four living Australian VC recipients, one from Vietnam and three from Afghanistan. Each understands the responsibility of being a recipient and the scrutiny which their post-award experience brings.
Of the four awards for Afghanistan two were made for aggressive leadership in extremely hostile circumstances, one for rescuing an Afghan soldier and one for drawing fire at extreme personal risk.
It has been revealed one recipient, Ben Roberts-Smith, who holds multiple gallantry decorations, has been mentioned in inquiries being conducted into allegations of irregular behaviour by Australian troops. That is ironic given troops are sent into combat to kill their enemy and capture ground usually at great personal risk.
Armchair warriors may pontificate on the morality of war but the reality is quite different.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

For the U.S., a frustrating history of recovering human remains in North Korea

At their historic summit last month, President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un committed to recovering more American remains, including the “immediate repatriation of those already identified.” Their statement raised hopes that as many as 200 sets believed to be ready for transfer could be collected in coming days and possibly more in the near future.

But the up-and-down nature of past efforts suggests the process could be fraught with pitfalls, including a mixed record of cooperation from the North Koreans. Any successful repatriation also will face the laborious identification process that has dragged on for years with the remains already in U.S. possession.

READ MORE from this Washington Post article

Australian MIA

The Australian Government’s unrecovered Korean War casualities – The Koreran War Project is closely associated with the United States’ Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency(DPAA) and the South Korean Ministry of National Defence Agency for Missing in Action Recovery and Identification (MAKRI).

The Korean War Missing in Action Working Group was established in December 2015 through the advocacy of Ian Saunders the son of the missing Pte :John Saunders supported by the veterans’ associations (Korean Veterans Association, RAR Association, Air Force Associations, the Naval Association of Australia) and the MIA families. It is active in seeking progress towards the identification of remains still unidentified and held by the DPAA,. You can follow their minuted progress here.

Enquiries are welcome, you can contact the Korean War Project team via telephone 1800 019 090 or email [email protected] .

Hope for Families of Troops Lost in Korea

Australian families whose loved ones never returned from Korean War could be a step closer to recovering the remains of those missing in action following the US-North Korea summit.

A four-point plan US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un signed in Singapore on Tuesday included a pledge to recover the remains of prisoners of war and those missing in action in the 1950-53 conflict.

Veterans Affairs Minister Darren Chester said he was heartened the issue was raised during the historic talks.

“I think it gives some hope,” he told the National Press Club on Wednesday.

There are 43 Australians missing in action from the Korean War.

imagesIan Saunders, whose father Private John Phillip Saunders was one of the missing Australians, is happy families might soon see some progress.

“We have an excellent opportunity for the Australian government and Department of Defence to consolidate a matter that has never been addressed in 65 years,” he said.

Australia and the US military at the end of the month are expected to sign a deal to exchange relevant information and records relating to the 43 lost Australian servicemen.

Mr Saunders has uncovered evidence from the Australian and US military records from 1950-1955 revealing the locations of 1700 unidentified remains.

While some of the remains could be in North Korea, others are likely to be located above and below ground on Hawaiian soil and at the United Nations Military Cemetery Busan, South Korea.

Lisa Martin, Australian Associated Press
June 13, 2018

ADSO Comment

Advocates for increased active Australian Government action by the late Jim Bourke, Admiral Ian Crawford and Ian Saunders supported by the Royal Australian Regiment Association, The Naval Association of Australia, and the Air Force Association, The Korean Veterans Association  and others led to the establishment of the Korean War Missing in Action Working Group in December 2015. You can follow its progress here

It sought greater active involvement and co-operation with The United States’ Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency(DPAA) and the South Korean Ministry of National Defence Agency for Missing in Action Recovery and Identification (MAKRI) organisations.

Ian Saunders effectively represents the MIA families.

images 19

 

The West Australian Editorial – Many Dangers Exist in Sitting in Judgement of the SAS

Modern war is like nothing that has gone before. The opposing sides do not line up in clear sight of each other, one army in red and the other in blue, and march at each other. No, today the fog of war weighs heavier than ever. So those who would sit in judgment of the special forces soldiers who fought in Afghanistan should keep a few things in mind.

Firstly, everything that you may have read in some media reports are purely allegations or accusations. It must be remembered that nothing has been proved against any members of the Perth-based Special Air Service Regiment. The reports have come from unnamed sources on one side only. We haven’t heard from the other side. We simply do not know the intimate details of what really went on — what these highly trained soldiers were really facing.

Secondly, these men were fighting to maintain the freedoms that we enjoy in this country — the key word here being “fighting” . They were in a war. It was a war unlike any other fought in history — a war in which the enemy was often almost impossible to identify. An enemy that may have masqueraded as a friend one day only to try to kill them the next. It is very easy to sit in our comfortable lounge rooms in the safety of Australia and pass judgment on situations that happened in circumstances many of us can’t , for a moment, even start to understand.

Thirdly, these men who fought for our way of life have now had unproven accusations hanging over their heads for many years. Why our top military leaders think this is an acceptable way to treat these men is incomprehensible. And what about the effect this is having on the soldiers’ families, who have had to sacrifice so much.

Former defence minister and head of the Australian War Memorial, Brendan Nelson, has said he was increasingly worried for the welfare of soldiers caught up in the investigations and their families.

It is now recognised how poorly our country treated our soldiers when they came back from the Vietnam war, and how that had such a detrimental effect on their wellbeing. Surely our country has learnt enough not to treat another generation of soldiers the same way?

Are we a country that is going to tear down the very people who have put their lives on the line to maintain the life we so cherish? Is this the sort of country we want to be?

12th June 2018

Indigenous Service Honoured During Reconciliation Week

IN recognition of National Reconciliation Week, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester has highlighted new research offering fresh insights into the personal experiences and challenges of Indigenous Australians during the First World War.


Mr Chester said National Reconciliation Week was an opportunity to reflect on the contribution of Indigenous men and women to military service throughout a Century of Service and shine a light on the unique challenges experienced by Indigenous soldiers returning from the First World War.

“Indigenous Australians have served our nation in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations since the Boer War in South Africa from 1899–1902. It’s estimated that at least 1,000 Indigenous Australians served in the First World War, despite regulations that discouraged their enlistment,” Mr Chester said.
“Indigenous men were excluded from military service in Australia until May 1917 and popular thinking is that most enlisted after this date. But new research undertaken by Indigenous historian professor John Maynard and Indigenous academic Mick Dodson suggests that the majority of Aboriginal soldiers enlisted from 1914 to 1916.
“Latest research has found that these soldiers were ‘inventive and proactive’ in finding ways to sign up. They moved to enlist from areas where they felt there was greater support for Indigenous people and they took on other racial identities such as South Sea Islander or Maori.”

The research shows that many Indigenous men encountered ‘official obstruction’ but this did not stop them from serving with courage and pride.
According to findings, the majority of Indigenous men who volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force stated they were employed as stockmen, labourers, shearers and farmhands. But there were other occupations noted, including oyster merchant, journalist, dental mechanic, clerk and plumber.
“Given they were already employed, income was not a likely reason for joining. The research suggests that Indigenous men most likely signed up for similar varied reasons as non-Indigenous men. Service was an opportunity for travel and adventure and to demonstrate their belief in the war effort and their loyalty to the British Empire.”
For those who served in war, returning to Australian society proved difficult. Based on the research, some never returned to their communities and families, preferring isolation, while others became activists for Aboriginal advancement in the 1920s or re-enlisted in the Second World War.

Reconciliation Week is an opportunity to stop, pause and reflect with gratitude on the service and sacrifice of Indigenous service men and women.

27 May 2018

1RAR family prepares for changing of colours

THERE are few more important occasions in the life of a military unit than the presentation of new colours. For infantry battalions particularly colours are a proud tradition, the richly embroidered silk banners once a rallying point amid battle’s tumult.

Off the battlefield they were a pocket history of the unit’s traditions and achievements.

Victoria Crosses have been awarded to ensigns – the specific rank given to officers carrying unit colours – who died defending those colours or who saved them at great personal risk.

Now their value is purely symbolic but they remain powerful symbols in regimental affairs.

In a customary ceremony next Wednesday <16 May> the First Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment will receive new colours from the Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove.

READ MORE