No Long Tan Movie for 50th Anniversary

DANGER CLOSE MovieUnfortunately I have some sad news for everyone who has been interested in our movie based on The Battle of Long Tan called DANGER CLOSE. We simply have not been able to raise the remaining funds needed to make the movie in time for a release around the 50th Anniversary of The Battle of Long Tan next year – August 2016.

As you might know we have assembled an incredible team starting with our Director Kriv Stenders who directed the box office hit RED DOG and who is currently filming the follow up BLUE DOG. We have a cracking script written by Australia’s most successful writer, Stuart Beattie. Stuart wrote the scripts for COLLATERAL starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx, all of the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN films, GI JOE, Australia and wrote and directed TOMORROW WHEN THE WAR BEGAN.

Sam Worthington who narrated my Battle of Long Tan Documentary is producing the film with me through his own Full Clip Productions. My producing partners John Schwarz, Charles Hannah and Executive Producers Meyer Shwarzstein, Peter Wetherell and Michael Schwarz have produced critically acclaimed mini-series and films like DEADLINE GALLIPOLI, THE WORLD’s FASTEST INDIAN, BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA and many others. Our First Assistant Director Chris Webb and Line Producer Paul Ranford have worked on films such as MAD MAX, GETTIN SQUARE, RED DOG, THE WATER DIVINER, DEADLINE GALLIPOLI, THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY, THE MATRIX, MAD MAX FURY ROAD, MAO’s LAST DANCER, BABE and many others. We also have a fantastic, potential ensemble cast lined up, led by Sam Worthington (AVATAR, TERMINATOR SALVATION) in the role of Major Harry Smith.

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Long Tan Vietnam Hero on List of Victoria Cross Possibles

CSM Wo2 Jack Kirby, D Coy 6RAR Long Tan
Company Sergeant Major WO2 Jack Kirby, D Coy 6RAR on the morning after the Battle of Long Tan

The Commander at the helm of the historical and bloody Battle of Long Tan has welcomed the addition of an ‘unsung hero’ of the Vietnam War to the list of candidates for a retrospective Victoria Cross.

Lt Colonel (Retired) Harry Smith said it was “only right and proper” that the Defence Honours Awards Tribunal investigate posthumous VCs for soldiers in the Vietnam and Korean conflicts alongside those for the two World Wars.

“I am cheered that my formal application for Warrant Officer Jack Kirby for his sustained gallantry at Long Tan has been accepted. Throughout the battle ‘Big Jack’ disregarded his own safety while braving enemy fire to distribute ammunition,” commented Smith. You can read more about what Jack Kirby did during The Battle of Long Tan in our previous blog post: Jack Kirby – An Unsung Hero of The Battle of Long Tan.

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Long Wait is Over – 45th Anniversary of Battle of Long Tan

Today, Thursday 18 August 2011 is the 45th Anniversary of the legendary Battle of Long Tan.

The long wait for proper recognition of the gallantry of those who fought and died in this battle is almost over.

45 years ago today 105 Australians and 3 New Zealanders fought and defeated an overwhelming enemy force of 2,500 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers in a rubber plantation in South Vietnam called Long Tan. This three and a half hour battle was so fierce it resulted in the deaths of 18 Australians and more than 500 enemy.

43 years ago U.S. President Lyndon B Johnson awarded the U.S. Presidential Unit Citation (PUC) for gallantry to D Company, 6RAR for extraordinary heroism. A similar award was also given by the South Vietnamese President. However, no unit citation was given by the Australian or New Zealand governments and individual awards were downgraded or not given at all. Some of these individual awards have only recently been upgraded.

2Lt Dave Sabben (21 yrs) - Former platoon commander 12 Platoon, D Coy, 6RAR

Today, at Gallipoli Army Barracks at Enoggera in Brisbane, the long wait for proper recognition comes to an end. At 3pm today, Australian Governor General Quentin Bryce will formally present the Australian Unit Citation for Gallantry (UCG) to the surviving Long Tan veterans of D Coy, 6RAR. In addition, former 12 Platoon Commander Dave Sabben will also be presented his upgraded individual medal, the Medal for Gallantry (MG) for his acts of leadership and gallantry on the battlefield at Long Tan. Current soldiers of 6RAR who have recently returned from a second tour of Afghanistan will formally troop the colours and be on parade during this historic ceremony. Many surviving Long Tan veterans will be on parade today, many with their family present along with a number of Next of Kin of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country 45 years ago.

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Long Tan Medals Battle Off To Court

Long Tan Harry Smith & Morrie Stanley
Long Tan Commander Lt. Col Harry Smith RTD (second from left) presenting Morrie Stanley with Australian Unit Citation in May 2010 alongside fellow Long Tan veterans Bob Buick, Dave Sabben and Willy Walker.

**Update: Watch Channel 7’s Sunrise Soapbox discuss this story at the bottom of this post.

The man who led Australian soldiers to victory at the bloody Battle of Long Tan 44 years ago is taking his fight for medals justice to the Federal Court.

Harry Smith, Lieutenant Colonel retired, today confirmed he will be pursuing court action in the New Year to get sign-off for the medals and commendations denied to eight members of Delta Company, two of Alpha Company 6RAR, and one of the Armoured Troop which repelled 2,500 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong enemy in an historic conflict on August 18, 1966.

Smith was the commanding officer of the 108 Australian and New Zealand troops that defied the odds in a three hour battle amid a rubber plantation deluged by monsoonal rains, and who later recommended a list of awards for gallantry that was slashed by senior officers.

Fourteen years ago he launched a campaign to gain recognition for all the soldiers on that list when the awards were denied a hearing at a formal Review in 1998, which approved 81 other Vietnam awards.

The pending class action is in support of the final 11 men left out in the cold.

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Snub to Governor General’s Medal Ceremony Offer to Long Tan Veterans

Governor General Quentin Bryce
Australian Governor General Quentin Bryce

A ceremony proposed by the Australian Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, to present a gallantry citation 44 years after the bloody Battle of Long Tan has been stalled by red tape to the distress of a distinguished Vietnam War commander.

Retired Lt Colonel Harry Smith praised the Governor-General for her sincere offer to host the ceremony for surviving soldiers from the conflict and Next of Kin (NOK) on 17 August the Day before Long Tan Day but said the Army had failed to respect the offer.

The logistics of the event, including the transportation to and from Canberra, were down to Defence, and they simply didnt follow through. Simply failed to honour the GGs wishes. Absolutely appalling!

The office of the Governor-General contacted Smith a month ago with the offer to hold an event at Yarralumla for surviving soldiers of the battle and family members of those who died in the conflict in 1966 or have passed away since.

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Australian Government finally redresses Long Tan medals

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.

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