VETERANS WELCOME LONG TAN MEDALS DECISION 42 YEARS ON
The Vietnam War veteran who led the charge for recognition for the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Long Tan in 1966 has described the Rudd Government’s decision to award more medals as a very favourable outcome.
Lt Colonel Harry Smith, (retired), who was the commanding officer of the 108 troops from D Company 6RAR who fought in the historic conflict, started his campaign to right the wrong 12 years ago.
This is a good decision; a justified decision and one that will gladden the hearts of many members of the Vietnam Veterans family, said Smith, who recently turned 75.
It has been a long time coming, indeed 42 years long. However, the Government deserves much credit for cutting through the red tape and falsehoods generated through the decades to prevent justice being down.
Smith’s original recommendations for awards for bravery, lodged soon after the conclusion to the bloody three hour battle that claimed the lives of 18 Australians, many of them young National Service conscripts, were mostly dismissed by the Government of the day.
After 42 years, let us all take pride in winning another battle over negative bureaucracy dating back to 1966… I thank the Rudd Government for having the courage to defy the old regime and come up with a decision that satisfies the need for justice to be done.
The urgings of the Commanders, which started in 1996, are based on documented evidence showing that senior officers not at the Battle were decorated; original Delta Company awards were downgraded in favour of senior officer awards; the failure of a range of Governments to address the issues regarding downgraded and deleted Imperial Awards; and the rejection of the offer of a South Vietnamese Unit Citation and Medals.
While the Government of the day denied medals offered by the US, a US Presidential Unit Citation for Delta Company was later accepted and approved in 1968.
The South Vietnamese Medals were finally approved after 38 years, in 2004, but not the South Vietnamese Unit Citation.
Smith, speaking on behalf of the seven key Commanders at Long Tan, said he was extremely pleased the Government had decided to establish a new fully Independent Honours and Awards Tribunal, that would in due course look at other award recommendations dating from 1966.
The good news is that 42 years down the track, the original status of the Company and Platoons has been reinstated by their commanders receiving the contemporary equivalents to the DSO and MC for the performance of their men, commented Smith.
Further, the whole Company can wear the CGCP alongside the PUC, personally recognising all our men. Also, the other awards might still be approved by the new tribunal in due course, and I and my colleagues will be well prepared to testify at that Tribunal.
I take this opportunity to thank Minister Alan Griffin and former MP Graham Edwards for all their hard work and in believing that there were flaws in earlier government and bureaucratic decision-making, and paving the way for a momentous outcome.
Note: The History Channel on FOXTEL will mark the 42 anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan by screening the award-winning documentary on the Battle on Monday (18 August) at 9.30am and 9.30pm and Tuesday (19 August) at 5.30am and 1.30pm. The documentary was created and co-produced by Martin Walsh and Red Dune Films. Media inquiries to Graham Cassidy, Cato Counsel, on 0419 202317
Media enquiries to Graham Cassidy on 0419 202317
SG – Star of Gallantry (Australian Military Honours System)
The Star of Gallantry (SG) is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and other persons recognised by the Defence Minister. It is awarded for acts of great heroism or conspicuous gallantry in action in circumstances of great peril. It is the highest of the Military gallantry awards in the Australian Honours System and the 2nd highest military award overall, only surpassed by the Victoria Cross for Australia (VC)
MG – Medal for Gallantry (Australian Military Honours System)
The Medal for Gallantry (MG) is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the Australian Defence Force. It recognises acts of gallantry in action in hazardous circumstances. The MC was introduced on 15 January 1991 replacing the Imperial equivalent. It is ranked third in the Gallantry Decorations in the Australian Honours System.
DSO – Distinguished Service Order (Old Commonwealth Imperial Awards) MC Military Cross (Old Commonwealth Imperial Awards)
CGCP – Cross of Gallantry Citation with Palm (Unit Citation to D Company, 6RAR by the Vietnamese Government) PUC Presidential Unit Citation (Unit Citation to D Company, 6RAR by President Lyndon B. Johnson on behalf of the US Government)
LTVA – Long Tan Veterans Association