Australian Government supports veterans to attend Long Tan Medal ceremonies

Min­is­ter for Vet­er­ans’ Affairs, War­ren Snow­don, and Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary for Defence, David Feeney, today clar­i­fied infor­ma­tion about sup­port pro­vid­ed to vet­er­ans to attend two medals cer­e­monies relat­ed to the Bat­tle of Long Tan.
Min­is­ter Snow­don said ‘It has been alleged the Com­mon­wealth did not pro­vide sup­port to rel­e­vant vet­er­ans to attend indi­vid­ual awards which were invest­ed in Can­ber­ra on 17 August last year.

‘Let me set the record straight. The Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment offered to fly vet­er­ans and a guest to Can­ber­ra for their indi­vid­ual medal cer­e­monies. Two of the three par­tic­i­pants chose not to attend and their medals were then for­ward­ed at their request.’ 

‘Fur­ther­more, a sec­ond cer­e­mo­ny will take place for the pre­sen­ta­tion of the Unit Cita­tion for Gal­lantry to 6RAR at their base at Enog­gera Bar­racks in Bris­bane in August this year. The Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment will also fund rea­son­able trans­port costs of rel­e­vant vet­er­ans involved in the ceremony.’ 

‘These awards should be a cause for great sat­is­fac­tion to the ex-ser­vice com­mu­ni­ty, and to Viet­nam vet­er­ans in par­tic­u­lar,’ Min­is­ter Snow­don said. Sen­a­tor David Feeney, Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary for Defence said ‘The gov­ern­ment has the great­est respect for all our Viet­nam vet­er­ans, includ­ing the vet­er­ans of Long Tan. 

‘I par­tic­u­lar­ly recog­nise the great gal­lantry shown by Lieu­tenant Colonel Smith, who was Offi­cer Com­mand­ing D Com­pa­ny, 6RAR, at Long Tan. I wel­come the fact that after inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tions it has been decid­ed to upgrade the hon­ours award­ed to these vet­er­ans and to 6RAR as a unit,’ Sen­a­tor Feeney said. 

In August 1966 the 6th Bat­tal­ion, Roy­al Aus­tralian Reg­i­ment, (6RAR) fought a major engage­ment near Long Tan in South Viet­nam, in which 18 Aus­tralians and a large num­ber of Viet­namese com­mu­nist troops were killed. 

Long Tan vet­er­ans cam­paigned for many years for greater recog­ni­tion both for indi­vid­u­als who took part in the bat­tle and for 6RAR as a unit. After a long inves­ti­ga­tion, and two inde­pen­dent reviews, the Gov­ern­ment announced in August 2008 that four Long Tan vet­er­ans would be offered indi­vid­ual medals, and that 6RAR would be award­ed the Unit Cita­tion for Gal­lantry. The indi­vid­ual vet­er­ans were Lieu­tenant Colonel (ret) Har­ry Smith, Major (ret) Geoff Kendall, 2nd Lieu­tenant (ret) Dave Sabben, and the late Flight Lieu­tenant Cliff Dohle. 

Media Con­tacts:
Min­is­ter Snowdon’s office: Alice Plate 0400 045 999
Sen­a­tor Feeney’s office: Lor­na Clarke 0408 345 730 

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

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