Chaplain Gary Stone Speaks out on Recognition of RCB Service 1970-1989

As a veteran of almost 48 yrs military service, the last 24 of which I served as a Chaplain , I must raise my grave concerns about the morality of the treatment of our veterans by ADF and Government officials in their continuing rejection of the substantive evidence being presented by the RCB Review Group in their case for recognition of warlike service.

In my 4 years of training at RMC Duntroon, I was grounded in the need in public service, for uncompromising integrity, and the reality that sometimes oversights and mistakes are made because of inadequate or insufficient information, and the need for these to be corrected. There are plenty of precedents of recognition being granted belatedly, and the previously Secret evidence now available in relation to RCB, should provide scope for this case to be considered anew.

But it is not.
As this case goes on, what seems clear is that advisors and public servants are deliberately ignoring evidence and giving bad advice and recommendations to senior ADF officers and Ministers.
Some might construe this as a cover up of earlier mistakes. Nevertheless, we are now at a point where litigation may be required to correct the injustices felt by the members who served at RCB.
At the very least, a group of more than 10,000 veterans is experiencing unnecessary stress and dismay at the unjust way in which they are being treated.
Australians rightly expect to be given a fair go and fair hearing, and these veterans will not stop in their pleading until justice is granted them.
They have now seen The Defence Committee Minutes of 11 Jan 1973, and other official documents confirming irrefutably that this was an operational deployment to protect RAAF personnel and assets at Air Base Butterworth when a war was being fought from this base against communist insurgents.

We did no training with the Malaysians. We were totally focussed on defence of the airbase, and reacting to any communist incursions.
But of course the veterans already knew this, from briefings on the Air Base and from being “Warned for Active Service” before they deployed. Many were Vietnam or Borneo Veterans who have given testimony that their service in Butterworth met the requirements that saw them given Active Service recognition in earlier conflicts.

Others like me, an Infantry Platoon Commander at Butterworth in 1974-75 went on to serve in other conflicts ( in my case 6 other operational theatres) and subsequently got recognition for warlike service for similar service as at Butterworth.

But this case should stand or fall on evidence, rather than subjective opinions and the full evidence now needs to be considered, and the mistakes of the past need to be corrected.

What was a simple nature of service claim has now become also a case for ethical conduct or misconduct, which will have wider ramifications for Government and officials than recognising the faithful service of some patriotic veterans.
I would hope that those desiring an ethical consideration of this case will now act appropriately .
Yours Sincerely

Gary Stone
President Veterans Care Association

The Australian – Closure now closer for families of Australians lost in Korean War

A long-awaited agreement with the US to identify Australian war dead from the Korean conflict has finally been signed, boosting Canberra’s case to join the Americans in recovering the remains of missing soldiers and airmen.

Families of the 43 Australian servicemen still listed as missing in action in North Korea applauded the memorandum of understanding, which came as South Korean President Moon Jae-in ­arrived in Pyongyang for crucial talks with Kim Jong-un.

The MOU between the Australian Defence Department and the Pentagon was first mooted in 2011 to establish a framework to share DNA and other identifying information in case a repository of remains held by the US military in Hawaii contained those of Australians killed in the 1950-53 war.

Progress stalled 11 months ago after a draft of the agreement was settled, frustrating relatives of the Australian MIAs as the final text bounced back and forth between Canberra and Washington.

Ian Saunders, the point man for the families whose father is among the missing, said the agreement could provide a basis for Australian investigators to gain access to suspected burial sites should the North Koreans honour their word and let Americans in.

“There have been breakthroughs before but this is the ultimate to date in terms of getting identification of the remains,” said Mr Saunders, 70. His father, Private John Saunders, was reported missing, presumed killed, in January 1953 in a fierce clash between Australian troops and Chinese regulars on the North Korean side of what’s now the demilitarised zone that divides the peninsula.

Mr Saunders, who turned five the day after his dad went missing, said: “The MOU is a big step forward for us. It’s the green light to pursue things more actively.”

Korean Veterans Association of Australia president Tom Parkinson, who was in the line to the left of John Saunders’s battalion at the time he went missing, insisted the families of the MIAs deserved to bring them home. “It’s long overdue that there is some sort of … finality,” he said. “And none of us are getting any younger.”

The Australian government approached the US to piggyback on its deal with the North Koreans after Donald Trump tied the return of remains to his offer to ease crippling economic sanctions on the rogue state if Kim gave up his nuclear arsenal. Confirming the MOU, a Defence spokesman said last night it formalised long-standing arrangements between the US and Australia to share information on war dead.

Mr Moon’s three-day trip to the North Korean capital is the first by a South Korean leader in a decade but his third meeting with Kim this year, raising hopes they can revive a peace process that looks to have stalled after the hype of the June breakthrough with Mr Trump faded.

The Australian MIA families were advised by the Army’s Unrecovered War Casualties Unit this week that the MOU had been signed by the US Defence POW/MIA Accounting Agency, cementing a close relationship over Korean War dead.

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Mr Parkinson, 85, still has raw memories of the night Mr Saunders’ father went missing at the foot of Maryang San, the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting involving Australians. He was a young machinegunner in 1RAR, dug in alongside John Saunders’s battalion, 3RAR, when the 25-year-old private was killed on January 25, 1953. He was one of six who died when a 31-man patrol led by Lieutenant Geoff Smith ran into a concentration of Chinese troops. The officer was among the presumed dead; another seven Australians were taken prisoner.

Mr Parkinson lost friends at Maryang San, a bitter battle for a hill about 2km inside the North Korean DMZ. In July 1952, Lieutenant Laurie Ryan of 3RAR was reported killed alongside two his men, but Mr Parkinson heard conflicting accounts of what had actually happened.

Mr Saunders said he was con­fident his father’s grave would be found if investigators were ­allowed into North Korea.

Jamie Walker, Associate Editor
19 September 2018


Battle rages for Diggers – RCB veterans have not surrendered nor will they…

ON the night of December 7-8 1941, Japanese forces began invading Malaya, hours before the attack on US territory Pearl Harbour,
Australia’s first casualties on December 8 were the crews of two 1Sqn RAAF Hudson bombers from six aircraft dispatched to bomb Japan’s invasion fleet.
When Japanese aircraft attacked Butterworth, some RAAF Buffaloes were in the air and tried to intercept, but they were an inadequate match for the speedy Japanese fighters.
The ADF has maintained a long relationship with Butterworth, through the first Malayan Emergency 1950-1960, Confrontation, Vietnam and the second Malaysian Emergency (Counter Insurgency War 1969-1989) to the present day.
From 1958 to 1988 the airfield was an Australian military asset, known formally as RAAF Butterworth.
From 1970 an Australian Army infantry company has been deployed to Butterworth, though successive Australian governments have employed various subterfuges to camouflage their real role.
Although the deployment was officially described as training with Malaysian forces, its actual, formally denied role was to be a ready reaction force to defend, if required, the RAAF assets including Mirage fighters based there.
There is no doubt until 1989 there was a real threat to Australian personnel and assets based at Butterworth, nor that RCB was established and armed to react to that threat should it eventuate.
Yet successive Australian governments have consistently refused to recognise RCB service as warlike, and concede appropriate veteran benefits to those who served in that period.
The RCB veterans lobby group, have gathered a massive database of previously classified material which indubitably supports their claims for recognition.
They will not rest until they clear the fog of bureaucratic and political obfuscation which continues to deny their evidence.

READ  ROSS EASTGATE’S FULL ARTICLE

Note a correction to the article: Robert Cross is the RCB’s veterans lobby group (RCB Review Group) leader of which Ted Chitham (past CO 8/9 RAR 1974-1976) is a member.

“RCB veterans have not surrendered nor will they…” Ross Eastgate

Believe It or Not

Sometimes reality and imagination part company. This is a true story appearing here for the first time.

First the commemoration…
Today (7 Sep 2018) we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the worst air disaster to occur on Australian territory.

In the early hours of the 7th of September 1943, a United States Army Air Force B-24D Liberator bomber, known as “Pride of the Cornhuskers” took off from Jackson’s Airfield at Port Moresby carrying four 500-pound bombs and fuelled with almost 12,000 litres of high-octane aviation fuel.

Moments later it crashed into the jungle, next to a convoy of trucks carrying Australian soldiers from the 2/33rd Battalion, who were waiting to board transport aircraft that would take them to Nadzab.

Three of the bombs exploded in the blaze that erupted after impact. Machine-gun ammunition, mortar rounds and hand grenades, rifle and Bren gun ammunition cooked off as the fires progressed.

The men of D Company, 2/3rd Battalion took the full brunt of the conflagration.

All eleven crewmen of the Liberator were killed on impact.

Sixty two Australians died as a result of the crash, including two truck drivers of 158 Transport Company; another 92 men were injured but survived.

READ MORE

 

Opinion – Rewriting Australian Army History – The Revisionists Strike Again

THE Australian Army commemorates March 1, 1901, as its official foundation date.
Since 1986 the Australian Army has published a glossy publication,
Brief History of the Australian Army, which is now in its fifth edition. The latest edition, which now devotes its first chapter to “European Settlement and the Aboriginal Resistance 1788-1920”.
Pardon, run that by again?
Engaging in so called frontier wars against Aboriginal resistance, as the current brief history edition claims, were never part of our army’s history.
Yet again the politically correct Canberra-based social warriors are rewriting history to suit their own agendas.
The Australian Army’s proud record since 1901 should be freed of such slurs.

 

READ MORE

Commemorating the Service of Malaya and Borneo Veterans

Malaya and Borneo Veterans’ Day, today recognises Australian military personnel who served in two historical campaigns – the Malayan Emergency (1948–1960), and the Indonesian Confrontation, or Konfrontasi, (1962–1966).

 

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester today encouraged Australians to reflect on the service and sacrifice of those who served during these post-Second World War conflicts in Malaya and on Borneo.

“The Malayan Emergency was declared on 18 June 1948, following the Malayan Communist Party launching an insurgency against British colonial rule,” Mr Chester said.
“Australia’s military became involved in 1950 and served in the Emergency until its official end in 1960, however, some units remained in Malaya until 1963.
“I encourage all Australians to pause and reflect on our 13 years in Malaya, and to recognise how our personnel from the Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force played a key role in bringing the long-running insurgency to an end.”
The Indonesian Confrontation began in 1962 when Indonesian forces launched attacks on the newly federated state of Malaysia. Australian forces became involved two years later.
“The British led response to the Confrontation included the deployment of various elements of the three Australian armed services,” Mr Chester said.
“Australian and other Commonwealth troops proved themselves during the Confrontation as professionally adaptable to the challenges of conducting successful small scale operations in the thickly forested terrain of Borneo, experiences that would prove useful in the Vietnam War.”
“Today we should reflect on the Australian service personnel who served in the Malayan Emergency and Indonesian Confrontation, and pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

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