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Army September 1, 2011
By LS Paul berry
ON THE 45th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan,
the brave veterans of Delta Company, 6RAR, were for-
mally recognised with a Unit Citation for Gallantry in a
moving parade at Gallipoli Barracks in Brisbane.
Long Tan veterans, their families, official guests and
members of Mentoring Task Force 1 (MTF 1) gathered to
watch the 6RAR parade, which began with a trooping of
Mounted in front of the parade ground were 18 SLRs
with slouch hats, representing the 18 Australian soldiers
killed during the Vietnam War battle.
Governor-General Quentin Bryce thanked the D Coy
veterans on behalf of all Australians.
"Today we are here to pay tribute to your collective
resolve as a battalion," she said.
"The audacity of believing that a handful of soldiers
could halt a force of thousands is simply unimaginable.
"That you succeeded is even more astounding. I salute
you on every level."
Two former D Coy platoon commanders, Geoff
Kendall and David Sabben, accepted the unit citation on
behalf of the Long Tan veterans.
Mr Sabben, who also received a Medal for Gallantry
for his actions during the battle, said it was a wonderful
"The diggers who missed out on awards will now get
the unit citation, they'll be able to wear it and on Anzac
Day and they'll be able to say `there it is -- that's what I've
earned'," Mr Sabben said.
The Governor-General also presented a Meritorious
Unit Citation to CO 6RAR Lt-Col Mark Jennings for
MTF 1 and a number of individual awards to members of
the task force.
Lt-Col Jennings said it was a unique occasion in the
history of the battalion.
"Today we commemorate the sacrifice of everyone who
has worked with the battalion as a battalion group or task
force over the course of its history," Lt-Col Jennings said.
"As CO of 6RAR and MTF 1, it's a great honour and a
privilege to be recognised in such a way."
LONG Tan is commonly regarded
as the definitive Australian battle
of the Vietnam War.
One hundred and eight
Australian and New Zealand
soldiers fought a pitched battle
against more than 2000 North
Vietnamese soldiers and Viet Cong
in a rubber plantation not far from
the small village of Long Tan on
August 18, 1966.
They prevailed in the battle
after fighting in torrential rain for
four hours. They were nearly over-
run, but were saved by a timely
ammunition resupply, accurate
artillery fire from the nearby
Australian base, and the arrival of
reinforcements by armoured per-
Eighteen Australians were
killed and 24 were wounded, the
largest number of casualties in one
engagement since the Australian
task force had arrived a few
months earlier. After the battle,
the bodies of 245 enemy soldiers
were found, but there was evidence
that more bodies had been carried
On the third anniversary of the
battle in 1969, a cross was raised
at the site by the men of 6RAR.
Veterans from the battle gathered at
the cross to commemorate the fall-
en and the day was commemorated
as Long Tan Day from then on.
Over time, all Vietnam veterans
adopted the day as one to com-
memorate those who served and
died in Vietnam.
In 1987, after the welcome
home parade for Vietnam veterans
in Sydney, then-prime minister Bob
Hawke announced that Long Tan
Day would be known as Vietnam
A day worth remembering
Long Tan awards
VOLUNTEERS are sought to present the
ADF Long Tan Leadership and Teamwork
Awards to high school students in Australia
between October and December. The
awards encourage leadership and team-
work among school students and raise
the awareness of the ADF. Members of
any rank are encouraged to volunteer
and should include in their nominations:
full name, rank, PMKeyS number, unit
and base, supervisor's approval to par-
ticipate and details of preferred school.
Nominations can be forwarded to FSgt
Debbie Freeman at debbie.freeman@
defence.gov.au by September 17.
Memorial for peace
A COMMEMORATIVE service will be
held at the site allocated for the Australian
Peacekeeping Memorial on Anzac Parade
in Canberra at 11am on September 14.
The day will mark the 64th anniversary
of Australia's first contribution to a UN
peacekeeping mission in 1947. The memo-
rial design features two black polished
monoliths separated by a passage of light
leading to a courtyard for individual reflec-
tion and commemorative activities which
outline the story of Australian peacekeep-
ing. The memorial committee, chaired by
Maj-Gen Tim Ford (retd), continues to
widen its membership base and extend its
fundraising campaign. For more details on
the project go to
THE ADF Force Posture Review is open
to public submissions until September 16.
The review will assess, among a range
of issues, the impact on the ADF's force
posture of issues including more intense
minerals and petroleum resource activi-
ties around Defence training and exercise
ranges, urban encroachment on existing
Defence facilities, community attitudes to
living standards and residential locations
and the need for a more cost-effective
approach to basing. Information on the
review, including advice on preparing sub-
missions is set out at www.defence.gov.au/
IN THE August 18 edition of Army an
advertisement for a fitness course stated
the course was DASS approved. People
Strategies and Policy Group advises that
in fact DASS applications are considered
individually; there are no courses that auto-
matically attract DASS approval.
Gallantry: Governor-General Quentin Bryce presents the Unit Citation for Gallantry to
David Sabben, a platoon commander in D Coy 6RAR during the battle of Long Tan.
Inset, veterans of the battle march through the ranks of modern-day 6RAR personnel.
Photos by Cpl Peter Borys
Battle over: Members of D Coy, 6RAR, return to base on APCs after
the Battle of Long Tan in 1966. Photo provided by the Australian War Memorial
Enemy weapons: Troops examine captured Viet Cong weapons
after the battle.
Photo provided by the Australian War Memorial
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