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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