Opinion – First and Furtherest

Heroes flew under radar Catalina crews were the unsung heroes of the Pacific War.

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Vietnam Veterans’ Day Address – Kel Ryan

Given at Goodna Brisbane 18 August 2019.

Veterans, Ladies and Gentlemen, All

A special thank you and welcome to that dwindling band of warriors and spear carriers who fought in the Vietnam War.

It is a truism that the Gallipoli Campaign of the WW1 was central to defining Australia as a nation which stood ready to stand with allies on the battlefields across the globe. As this is so, the Vietnam War and the Battle of Long Tan on the 18th August 1966 defined those men and women who fought in South Vietnam during the period of 1962 to 1974.

Please forgive me a moment to tell a personal ‘war story’ as a lead into my understanding of the Battle of Long Tan and of the men who fought there.   

I was called up in July 1965, in what was referred to as the First Intake of National Servicemen.  I arrived in South Vietnam in early May 1966 as, Regimental Number 3786861 Private K. D. Ryan Sir! I was a Rifleman in Nine (9) Section, 12 Platoon D Company 5 RAR. On 24th May 1966 D Company along with the rest of the Battalion was inserted by helicopter into the area known as Nui Dat, it was to become our base and a familiar geographic location all too quickly. 

This insertion was code named Operation Hardihood and was to last two weeks as we, and then 6 RAR, cleared the area of enemy in ever increasing circles. It was monsoonal as few of us had ever experienced, humidity, clay soil, rubber plantations, jungle, constant picquets, four hours sleep a night, constant movement, enemy sightings, enemy contacts, mosquitoes, strange noises at night, rotting clothing and swift running creeks and rivers. Very different from the training areas we had experienced just a short time ago. Those first two to three weeks were a test for us and sign of what the future was be.

Fast forward to 18 August. D Coy 5 RAR returned to Nui Dat base from a two-week operation. This involved securing and a cordon and search of Binh Ba, a Catholic village of 5,000 people to the north of Nui Dat.  This village was to be the scene of a major battle three years later.

As we were cleaning up and getting ready to attend a concert where Little Patti, all of 17 years of age, and Col Joy and the Joy Boys were performing, a battery of gun opened. Nothing strange! Then another battery began firing, then another and finally the American 155mm gun battery opened fire. A different sound and with this we knew that something serious was happening.

You would have to read the chronology of times and events to fully understand the chaotic nature of what transpired between 3.15pm when D Coy 6 RAR, comprising 108 men, entered the Long Tan Rubber and 7.10pm when relief in the form of A Coy 6 RAR and APCs arrived. In that time:

  1. D Coy fought an estimated 2,000 enemy. 
  2. Fought in torrential rain against constant human wave assaults from different directions of 100 to 200 NVA troops at a time.
  3. Many of the men ran out of ammunition.
  4. Platoons became separated from each other and from Company headquarters.
  5. Radio communications was lost at times as some radios were hit by gun fire.
  6. Individual soldiers became separated in the melee as leaders tried to keep their men together as they sought to move back toward company headquarters while under constant attack.
  7. Some wounded had to crawl back to where they thought the main body had moved to in the dark and torrential rain. Some had to play dead at times due to the proximity of the enemy.
  8. The RAAF helicopter pilots, and crew flew in ammunition in conditions unlike any they had ever experienced. Flying low they dropped the ammunition after identifying smoke was sighted.
  9. When the helicopters were in the air the guns had to stop firing for fear of knocking them out of the game.
  10.  Men on the Gun Line back at Nui Dat collapsed from exhaustion and from the toxic fumes which could not be dissipated because of the lack of wind.
  11. In all a total of 24 artillery guns were to fire over 3,000 rounds into the Long Tan rubber to save D Company 6 RAR. 

At 7.10pm the enemy began to disperse. D Coy 6 RAR regrouped slowly and along with those arriving from Nui Dat moved to a clearing just outside the rubber. Evacuation of the dead and wounded began with both Australian and American helicopters operating through the night.

But many men could not be accounted for – they were still in the rubber plantation!

At that point the Battle of Long Tan was thought to have been a disaster – a defeat.

105 Australians and three (3) New Zealanders entered the Long Tan Rubber at 3.15pm that day. 17 were KIA and 24 WIA. One member of 3 Troop I APC Squadron died of wounds some days later.

No one knew the extent of the enemy casualties.

While all of this was going on D Coy 5 RAR had been warned to move at first light on 19 August to fly to that same clearing.

To clear the battlefield D Coy 5 RAR and D Coy 6 RAR and elements of A Coy 6 RAR did a sweep through the Long Tan rubber plantation, on foot and in APCs. The primary task was to locate the missing Australians. This sweep began at 8.45am.

It slowly became evident that a major defeat had been inflicted on the enemy. The official enemy dead was put at 245 KIA. It is known that there were many more who died but the enemy carried them away to be buried elsewhere.

At 10.45am, as one writer commented, elements of D Coy 6 RAR “come across the final 11 Platoon position and discovered the remaining 13 missing, all dead, still in the firing positions with their fingers still on the triggers of their weapons, facing outwards towards the enemy. The rain has washed them clean and they all still seemed to be alive”.

D Coy 5 RAR moved through the rubber and slowly followed up the enemy for some days after that.

Having been a bit player in such an event I am often at a loss to describe it, to put into words the actions of the men of D Coy 6 RAR.

Truly, legends are made by brave and decent men.

To find these words I turn to that other defining event in Australian history – the Kokoda Campaign of WW2.

Between 26 – 31 August 1942 the Battle of Isurava took place along the Kokoda Track. It was a decisive battle as we fought to halt the Japanese advance toward Port Moresby. 99 Australians were killed and 111 wounded.

If you stand at the ISURAVA Memorial and look to the north, up the valley, with the ridge lines to the West and the East, with the EORA Creek, down below and to the East you can visualise where the Japanese came from.

The lessons I speak of are there to your front on four pillars that read:

COURAGE

ENDURANCE

MATESHIP

SACRIFICE

They are qualities that I see in the men of D Coy 6 RAR as they fought a decisive battle against an enemy determined to cause a humiliating defeat on the Australians.

Yes, war is terrible, and it invariably solves nothing. Out of it though we as a nation has gained, yet again, an example and qualities to live by:  

COURAGE – to venture beyond the norm

ENDURANCE – to remain focused on the end game.

MATESHIP – to tolerate and to respect those around us.

SACRIFICE – to accept disadvantage and discomfort.

To these qualities I would add – RESILENCE – these men stayed the course.

The Battle of Long Tan remains a defining event in our national story.

Vietnam Veterans’ Day Legacy Remembered

TOMORROW Australians across the country are encouraged to commemorate the service of all those who served in the Vietnam War and the Battle of Long Tan.
Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said Australians should pause and reflect on the bravery, teamwork and endurance that was displayed throughout the battle and wider war.
“Almost 60,000 Australians served during the Vietnam War, and tragically 521 of them died with a further 3,000 wounded,” Mr Chester said.
“Tomorrow, 18 August, we commemorate Vietnam Veterans Day and the 53rd anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, where we remember the sacrifices of those who died and say thank you to all those who served.”
The Battle of Long Tan took place in a rubber plantation not far from the small village of Long Tan and is widely known as one of the fiercest battles fought by Australian soldiers, who faced wet and muddy conditions due to torrential rain and the loss of their radios.
We also remember the actions of more than 100 Australian and New Zealand soldiers who were vastly outnumbered, facing a force of 2,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops,” Mr Chester said.
“Tragically, some 18 Australians died and more than 20 were wounded. This was the largest number of casualties in one operation since the Australian task force had arrived a few months earlier.
“This Battle formed a significant part of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War – a decade long campaign.”
Later today Minister Chester will attend the Vietnam Remembrance Service held at the Sale RSL Sub Branch, laying a wreath to pay tribute to all those who served in the Vietnam War.
The legacy of Australia’s Vietnam veterans is still felt by those in the ex-service community today. Vietnam veterans were vital in the establishment of the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service, now known as Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling, and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Long Tan Bursary scheme which provides education funding support.
Open Arms has been operational for more than 35 years and is a life-saving service that provides free and confidential counselling, group treatment programs, suicide prevention training and a community and peer network to support mental health and wellbeing in the ex-service community.
Tomorrow, applications for the Long Tan Bursary Scheme 2020 academic year will open. The scheme provides funding to help eligible children, and now grandchildren of Australian Vietnam veterans, meet the cost of post secondary education.
Thirty-seven bursaries, each worth up to $12,000 over three years of continuous full-time study, are awarded annually to successful applicants across Australia. Applications close on 31 October 2019.
To find out if you are eligible for the Long Tan Bursary scheme, please visit the DVA website HERE.
To find out more about Vietnam Veterans Day, please visit the Anzac Portal website.
If this anniversary causes distressing memories or feelings for you, or someone you know, please call Open Arms on 1800 011 046.

Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling, provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au HERE

NATION PAUSES TO REMEMBER THE KOREAN WAR ARMISTICE

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TOMORROW (27th July) marks 66 years since the Korean War Armistice was signed, ending three years of war in Korea.

Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester is encouraging all Australians to pause and remember those who served in the Korean War and the post-armistice period.

“Of the 18,000 Australian personnel who served, Australia suffered some 1,500 casualties, including more than 350 who lost their lives and 30 who were taken prisoner,” Mr Chester said.

“Of the more than 150 nurses who served in Japan nursing Korean War casualties, more than 50 also served in Korea.

“The signing of the armistice was held in 1953, however Australia maintained a presence in Korea as part of the multi-national peacekeeping force until 1957.

“Our soldiers, sailors and airmen fought long and hard for South Korea’s freedom. The conditions were hazardous and the effort of moving over mountains and valleys was exhausting.”

Within the first few days of the war, then Prime Minister Robert Menzies committed ships of the Royal Australian Navy to the Korean War. These were soon joined by units of the Royal Australian Air Force and the Australian Army.

“Despite the fact that Australia was still recovering from the Second World War, our military personnel joined the United Nations effort in Korea in a unified show of support,” Mr Chester said.

“These men and women fought to defend the Korean peninsula – many of whom never returned home. (43 Australian servicemen remain missing in action)

“Today, Australia says thank you for your service.”

For more information on the history of the Korean War, visit the Anzac Portal www.anzacportal.dva.gov.au/history/conflicts/korean-war.

Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling, provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 82414546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au 

Memorial Service – Lcpl Martin Bink 9 RAR Svn – 5 Nov 2019

The RARA ACT will be holding a Memorial Service for Marty Bink in Canberra on 5 Nov 19. He was a member of Anti Tk/Trackers when he was KIA on 05 Nov 69. He was the Battalion’s last Battle Casualty whilst doing ‘protection’ for the Engineer Land Clearing Team down on the Light Green – East of Dat Do

It would be appreciated if you could pass the details on your networks to as many of Marty’s friends, comrades, family, other interested parties, and especially Spt Coy members, as soon as possible.

Details are-

·        Event – 50th Anniversary Memorial Service for L/Cpl Marty Bink, Spt Coy, 9RAR

·        Venue – Armed Services Section Woden Cemetery, ACT

·        Date – Tue 05 Nov 19

·        Time – 1100h

·        Dress – 9RAR tie and medals, as appropriate

·        Afters – Canberra Southern Cross Club, 92 Corinna St Woden starting 1145h. (Lunch & drinks at own cost)

·        Attendance – Please advise if you are attending ASAP. Some of Marty’s family will be attending.

·        Contact – Tony Daniels – [email protected] , 0419400543

Warrior Poet – Faith in Tomorrow

In recent times, my talks with youngsters of varying ages in North Queensland continue to reinforce my views of their immense potential for future leadership.  However, such assets may be lost, if we, as today’s torch bearers do not provide leadership including moral courage, social discipline, sense of purpose and more drive to protect our treasured values of life.

We can huff, puff and beat our chests and rightly claim with much pride, past achievements of our nation, yet such pride is diluted when we continue to have politicians wearing blinkers, labouring with heavy egos, and racing in sticky mud behind the pack. Our youth need to emulate leaders who lead.

Our tough and determined pioneers reached their goal of unity and independence by achieving Federation.  Our beloved ANZACs, their sons and daughters and subsequent generation have defended such unity and freedom with their blood, sweat and tears. In my view, the bible they passed on to us of “duty, honour and love of country” is gathering dust, and thanks to politicians of all types, has been replaced by a novel, titled “what’s in it for me?”

Today, not only is there procrastination and apathy but a willingness by our political leaders to appease and tug forelocks.  Our traditional cries of “A fair go for all” and “We are as one” have been replaced by a new Anthem; “Them and us” while political correctness is demanding we say and do what we are told to say and do. There must be sound example by all of us for our youngest generation to follow and emulate. If we fail to set the right standards, then we have betrayed those who lit the torch, and subsequent generations who carried it.  Have no doubt, even our fiery torch without the right fuel will die.

Our leaders at all levels need to roll up their sleeves, use the right compass and once more find and use the track which made our nation a lucky country. The youngsters who will carry the torch into their tomorrow are waiting.

George Mansford April 2019

            

  ANZAC Spirits visit Saint Mary’s College

With pride and joy, all students in the hall shout “We are as one’’
Such a strong call reaches for the High Heavens where life begun 
Via green fields, dusty paddocks and surf where heroes once played  Past shearing shed, factory, office or mansions where they stayed  Then become faint echoes bouncing to and fro as shadows grow tall Suddenly a whispering breeze reaches out with ANZAC coo- eeee calls

It brings a message where the fallen speak with pride of you
No better compliment, for they use the term, Young True Blues

“Stand tall, stay together and help mates who are falling behind
To share with each other and knowing the truth, speak your mind

The best way to protect your values of life is never to ignore its rules
Truth, respect, duty, honour, love of country are essential tools

Set the examples for the next generation which will follow you Freedom of speech and action are precious gifts to use; not abuse
Be alert for evil which can slowly surface to erode a free way of life Your strength is to be united, all as one, be it in peace or strife
Learn as we did, of those before us who also gave blood, sweat and tears 
They changed Colonies to Nation, slowly but surely, year after year.”
  

The gentle wind pauses and a brief silence again
Then in the distance the faint sound of tramping boots reigns

Column of ghosts gathering at Memorials we hold so dear
Ready to mingle with the living at the coming of dawn does near
For a short-time, the fallen are home again; waiting for a new sun
So proud of youngsters who yesterday had shouted “We are as one”
C

George Mansford © April 2019  

AND THEN AT DAWN – 25 April 2019

                      Rain Drops or Tears on ANZAC Day

Columns of Spirits wearing battered slouch hats join us as we mourn Soldiers from some generations, long before were born
They watch as many wreaths for them are carefully laid
Listening via crackling, shrieking microphone as tributes are paid That is not the wind rustling as the bugle sounds
It’s our confused, unhappy, restless ghosts flitting round and round

The Brown Shirts of Berlin with different names are back again Scheming, heckling, bullying, and threatening is part of their game Masters of political correctness vilifying those with other views Politicians still planning for yesterday know naught of what to do False green Prophets guide two legged sheep towards a Utopia never to be
The Spirits whisper “what worth duty and our sacrifice to keep Australia free”

Disabled war veterans searching empty pockets listen too
While buckets of gold are paid to retiring Suits for what they didn’t do
Our sovereignty stolen, be it farms, ports and so much more, day by day
Free speech is the cry, but toe the politically correct line with what you say
Now it seems.
diversity not unity, is the strength of our land
What odds of foreign compass and our heads soon buried in the sand?

Ghosts of Pioneers mingle with our fallen and groan with disbelief Freedom with their pain, sweat and tears slowly stolen by a thief More sad news on hearing that many nursery rhymes are taboo
Like Hitler’s bonfire of truth, some of our books are off limits too Drugs, home invasions, carjacks and fear of walking streets at night Rhetoric and band aids with flawed scales of justice never get it right

The parade is over and the Spirits from yesterday’s nation fade away Australia bleats, as politically correct shepherds gather more strays Teams of coloured shirts gather at polling booths on Election Day
Free to harass, pester and lie to ensure the vote goes their way
Dark clouds rumble and wetness falls from a darkening sky
Is it rain? or angry tears of the fallen as they ask “why?” 

George Mansford ©April 2019

Opinion – Pause for Thought. Time to consider the values that underline our Country

It has been a long time since Anzac Day punctuated a federal election campaign, and there could hardly be a greater contrast than that between the point-scoring, box-ticking, and vote-buying that characterises an election campaign and the patriotic unity that Anzac Day evokes.

Both the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader sufficiently forgot party politics to make fine speeches at different commemorations; and, for a day, all our first world preoccupations, such as climate change and gender fluidity, faded against the contemplation of our forbears’ response to the struggle for life or death in a good cause.

So what moves us in our many hundreds of thousands, here and at services overseas, to get up early and brave the chill to honour the dead?

In a society that mostly shuns ritual and hardly ever goes to church, attending an Anzac Day service is about as close as we come these days to a religious observance. But what exactly are we remembering? Is it the grandparents and the great grandparents that fought in distant wars? Is it the friends of friends, currently serving in our military? Or is it the ideal of duty and service that they epitomise; and the values that made our country what it is — that we often fear might be slipping away from modern Australia?

When I was a child, when my grandfather’s World War II generation was still only middle-aged and when the Gallipoli generation was still alive to share its memories, Anzac Day was a day for old soldiers and mateship.

Now that the world wars have largely slipped into history, Anzac Day has become a day for us all; a day to honour those who’ve worn our country’s uniform; and a day, inwardly at least, to pledge ourselves to be worthy of the people who’ve taken great risks to keep our country safe.

This is why they deserve the special recognition they get; and why they are, in some way, a reproach to the rest of us. They call us to be more devoted to those around us, and to be more committed to our country, than perhaps we already are.

But then, so many are already committed. It is just that they are not often the voices we hear on our national broadcaster or agitating for the left’s latest cultural cause.

Instead they go to work each day, raise their family and pay their taxes, uncomfortable with the relentless push by some to change who we are, to apologise for Australia’s history and our success.

They’re often referred to as the silent majority and on Anzac Day they are out in force, because it was their sons who were the backbone of Australia’s military ranks and suffered the heavy losses.

Much more so than Australia Day — which has a lightness about it; smack bang in the middle of our idyllic summer, with flag waving, and big community barbecues — the sombreness of Anzac Day lies in its association with the sterner virtues of courage, self-sacrifice, duty and honour.

We remember the best and bravest of us, and in so doing, remind ourselves of their qualities and resolve to be more like them in our own, often very different struggles. Even if we wonder how today’s Australians would cope with horror — on the scale, say, of the Battle of Fromelles, with 1500 dead and nearly 4000 wounded in a single night — it is still a day to feel quiet pride in our country.

Thanks to our military men and women, and those of our allies, our country is free, fair and prosperous. There’s no doubt that our victories in war, plus our vigilance in peace, have made the world a better place.

But it’s the duty of all us, not just those who wear, or have worn a uniform, to preserve these hard-won gains, and to build on them wherever we can.

The values we commemorate in Anzac Day must be defended every other day of the year.

Let us hope the campaign interregnum of Anzac Day inspired our political leaders, and all the candidates, to think less of themselves and their political creeds and more for our country and our values.

For us voters, let us hope it has reminded us to treasure our vote, not to take our freedoms for granted and when we mark our ballot paper, to do so wisely.

Peta Credlin The Courier Mail April 27, 2019.  
Originally published as The Anzac message to remember on election day

Anzac Day 2019: Peter Cosgrove’s parting message to next generation

Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove has sought to reintroduce the Anzac legend to a new generation in his last Anzac Day address as the Queen’s representative in Australia.

Sir Peter, who will retire from public life in June, used his commemorative address at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra to explain why Australians gather every April to commemorate veterans and the fallen to young people and new arrivals.

“For some here attending this moment in the national capital, and others like this elsewhere around the nation, this will be your first Anzac Day service,” he said in Canberra.

“Some of you are youngsters, some are new to this nation. From all of those newly come to this national ritual, we expect that you will all be eager to understand what it is that draws us, as a nation, to gather so solemnly.

“For those who wonder why communities assemble on this day every year at dawn and later in the morning, as Governor-general I say that in the gamut of motives from the profoundly philosophical to simple curiosity, there is a fundamental reason.

“It is by our presence to say to the shades of those countless men and women who did not come home or who made it back but who have now passed and to say to their modern representatives, the ones around the nation who today march behind their banners ‘You matter. What you did matters. You are in our hearts. Let it be always thus’.”

The crowd in Canberra burst into applause when the National Anzac Ceremony’s master of ceremonies, journalist Scott Bevan, thanked Sir Peter for his service and wished him well for his upcoming retirement.

Sir Peter will leave public life after five years as Governor-general and previous service as the Chief of the Australian Defence Forces. He will be replaced later this year by NSW Governor David Hurley.

RICHARD FERGUSON – The Australian APRIL 25, 2019

Opinion – When Australia Punched Above its Weight


ONE hundred years ago in Paris, the victorious allies were negotiating a treaty to formalise the armistice declared on November 11, 1918. The Little Digger, PM Billy Hughes defended our diggers’ sacrifice.


PM Billy Hughes with Aussie Diggers

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ANZAC DAY 2019

Thank you Australia for keeping the spirit of Anzac alive

See the video presentation that will be shown on the big screen at the MCG  before the Anzac day clash between Essendon and Collingwood.