Long Tan veterans vow to boycott a ceremony to present Delta Company with a Unit Citation for Gallan

Discussion in 'Vietnam' started by spider, Mar 11, 2011.

  1. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    Long Tan veterans vow to boycott a ceremony to present Delta Company with a Unit Citation for Gallantry

    • Ian McPhedran
    • From: The Courier-Mail
    • March 10, 2011 12:00AM
    HONOURED: Harry Smith (right) is joined by VC recipients Keith Payne and Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith at Maryborough. Picture: John Wilson Source: The Courier-Mail

    ANGRY veterans of the battle of Long Tan are on a collision course with the army, vowing to boycott a ceremony to present Delta Company's Unit Citation for Gallantry almost 45 years after the battle.

    Company commander Harry Smith received his belated Star of Gallantry at Maryborough yesterday after a 15-year struggle for justice and due recognition for his men and the artillery and armoured vehicle crews who saved the day.
    The Unit Citation was awarded to D Company in 2009 and should have been presented by Governor-General Quentin Bryce, who had invited all Long Tan honours recipients to Government House in Canberra last August.
    But army chiefs derailed the vice-regal plan, insisting the citation be presented to Delta Company and 6RAR at the battalion's Enoggera Barracks base in Brisbane to mark Long Tan Day on August 18 this year.
    Mr Smith said the citation should have been presented to his company as soon as possible after approval in October 2009.
    D Company was awarded the US Presidential Unit Citation for gallantry in 1968.
    The awards saga has been going for more than 40 years after senior commanders on the ground used a ridiculous quota system to downgrade awards to the men who actually fought the battle.
    Mr Smith said one file portrayed the commanding officer of 6RAR, Lieutenant-Colonel Colin Townsend, as being in command of the battle.
    It said that "his personal presence and calm control inspired confidence in all ranks and enabled the battalion to inflict an overwhelming defeat on the enemy".
    "Strange, but the CO was not there until the enemy had withdrawn," Mr Smith said.
    Former Delta Company sergeant Bob Buick said that he and many others would boycott the Brisbane ceremony.
    He said the presentation should be made to the company by the Governor-General at the Vietnam Memorial in Canberra where she will be on August 18.
    Mr Smith said that without an invitation from Ms Bryce he would celebrate Long Tan Day at Cairns RSL, if he wasn't out fishing for coral trout.
  2. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    Daniel Hurst August 18, 2011 - 5:24AM

    Dave Sabben describes the Battle of Long Tan as “an extremely hectic three or four hours”.
    But the fight for his company to receive the military honours they deserved became a very protracted battle indeed.
    Retired Lieutenant Sabben will finally receive a medal for gallantry in Brisbane today, 45 years after 108 Australian and New Zealand troops repelled an enemy force of more than 2500 in Vietnam.
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    [​IMG] Second Lieutenant David Sabben in Vietnam. Photo: Australian War Memorial FOR/66/0673/VN

    Those involved in the Battle of Long Tan also had to battle a torrential downpour as they fought in a rubber tree plantation. They were supported by 24-gun artillery fire but 18 Australians were killed with 24 wounded.
    The Battle of Long Tan documentary maker Martin Walsh said the leader of Infantry Delta Company, Lieutenant Colonel (Ret'd) Harry Smith, had recommended a raft of honours for his men after the horrific conflict.
    However, these were downgraded at the time for political reasons, he said.
    Col Smith, who was finally awarded the Star of Gallantry medal for leadership and gallantry earlier this year, fought for years for better recognition for his former troops.
    Today, at a ceremony at Gallipoli Barracks in Enoggera, Governor General Quentin Bryce will award Lt Sabben a Medal for Gallantry.
    He will also accept a Unit Citation for Gallantry on behalf of Delta Company 6 RAR.
    Lt Sabben, a platoon commander who originally received Mentioned In Dispatches recognition, said he never thought he would see the day he and his company would receive the honours they deserved.
    “No, but it's very welcome to see this day because this action brings a close to all the delay that has happened,” he said.
    Lt Sabben, one of three on-the-ground commanders who survived the battle, remembers acts of bravery.
    When one of the forward platoons lost radio communications because their device was destroyed by a bullet, a signal man ran out into the battle, putting himself in harm's way, to supply a replacement.
    “He ran about 300 or 400 yards towards the platoon that had lost their radio ... seeing a need and acting on it and doing the right thing,” Lt Sabben said.
    Lt Sabben said he and others did not think much about the pressure they faced at the time because their training and instincts kicked in.
    But he said documents obtained in the 1990s showed the awards originally recommended were “belittled and downgraded”.
    “It's a very proud moment for myself and for my platoon to have the recognition finally,” he said.
    Lt Sabben said all of the members of the company had been invited along to today's ceremony, with about 80 still alive.
    Parliamentary Secretary for Defence David Feeney said he recognised the 6 RAR veterans who fought in the battle and “congratulate them on this truly deserved award”.
    The event today will also include the presentation of a Meritorious Unit Citation to recognise the efforts of members of the Mentoring Task Force 1 in Afghanistan recently.
    The Brisbane-based 6 RAR has lost four soldiers in Afghanistan.
    “The presentation of the Meritorious Unit Citation to the 6 RAR-led MTF-1 recognises the outstanding service in warlike operations on Operation Slipper in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan,” said the Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison.
    “The parade commemorates the sacrifices made by the fallen members of 6 RAR and its supporting elements in Vietnam and more recently in Afghanistan.”
    Today is the 45th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.
    Battle Of Long Tan Heroes To Recieve Military Honours | Dave Sabben
  3. Assam

    Assam Senior Member

    I am in 2 minds about the whole long Tan thing (& it will probably get me into trouble here).

    Having read the articles so far published in this thread, was it me or did the journalist in fact fail to mention that Smith received an immediate Military Cross for the action & that Bob Buik recieved an Immediate Military Medal.?

    The territory of retrospectivity is a slippery slope. There were calls for submissions many years ago to review the awards for Vietnam which were done & I know of 1 case in particular where a recommendation for an MM was submitted, knocked down to an MID & the chap ended up with the Medal of Gallantry under the new system as well.

    But what really gets me going is the RVN Cross of Gallantry citation saga.

    The Australian government rightly or wrongly rejected the offer of the RVN for the unit to receive this award. So offer made & then rejected end of section.

    2008, the Australian Government of the day approves & gazettes the award initially rejected 1966, an award that is dead because it no longer exists from a country (Republic of South Vietnam) that no longer exists.

    it is no different to say the Queen (in 2008) approving the award of Polonia Restituta from the Free Polish Government in Exile to veterans of Arnhem.

    Maybe someone smarter that I can tell me how that works!!!!


  4. gunbunnyB/3/75FA

    gunbunnyB/3/75FA Senior Member

    to be honest as a yank, we don't hear much about any battles that our troops were not in.while politicos play their stupid games, the soldiers should have been given their awards as soon as they were approved .
  5. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    End of War List - Vietnam click here. Mr Noel Tanzer AC (Chairman) Report of the Independent Review Panel of the End of War List - Vietnam. Department of Defence, Canberra, August 1999.
  6. spidge


    :poppy:This song about the Aussies in Vietnam still sends chill's up my spine:poppy:.

    Best played with a bit of volume!

  7. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    Veterans of the 1966 Delta Company 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (6 RAR) march in front of members of the current 6 RAR at the parade to mark the 45th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan. Mid Caption: Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, presented the Unit Citation for Gallantry to Delta Company, the 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (6 RAR) for acts of extraordinary gallantry in action at the Battle of Long Tan in 1966. The parade, at Gallipoli Barracks in Enoggera, also involved the presentation of a Meritorious Unit Citation to soldiers from 6 RAR-led Mentoring Task Force 1 (MTF-1), who recently returned from serving in Afghanistan.
  8. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

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