Col. Richard Southby (Ret.) of Australia stands in front of the American, Australian, and New Zealand flags during a ceremony commemorating the Battle of Long Tan on August 14, 2016.
On Sunday, August 14, a short ceremony near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, one of Australia's most well-known enagements during the Vietnam War. The costly battle took place on August 18, 1966.
105 Australian infantrymen and three New Zealand artillerymen fought against approximately 2,000 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces.
During the Vietnam War, Australia sent its Army, Navy and Air Force to assist in the war effort, including nearly 42,000 Army, just less than 13,000 Royal Australian Navy (RAN), and over 4,700 Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) personnel. In all, 521 Australian service members died as a result of the war, and more than 3,000 were wounded.
Ahead of this year’s anniversary, special guests and veterans joined together on the East Knoll of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to remember their service and sacrifice. Attendees included Col. Richard Southby (Ret.) of Australia and Major Sandra Patterson of New Zealand.
About The Battle of Long Tan
The Australian operations base at Nui Dat in Phuoc Tuy province was fired upon by the Viet Cong with mortar and shell at about 2 am on August 17, 1966. On August 18, the D Company, 6RAR Battalion, which consisted of 108 ANZAC soldiers, fought a pitched battle against over 2,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops near the small village of Long Tan. The Australians prevailed, but only after fighting in torrential rain for four hours. They were nearly overrun, but were saved by a timely ammunition resupply, accurate artillery fire from the nearby Australian base, and the arrival of reinforcements by armored personnel carrier. Eighteen Australians lost their lives and 24 were wounded, the largest number of casualties in one operation 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 many more bodies had been carried away. For their valor that day the men of D Company 6RAR were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.
Originally known as Long Tan Day, August 18 is now recognized as Vietnam Veterans Day in Australia.
About The Education Center at The Wall
VVMF is in the fundraising stages to build the Education Center at The Wall. The Center will be an interactive learning facility on the National Mall where our military heroes' stories and sacrifice will never be forgotten. It will feature the faces and stories of the more than 58,000 men and women on The Wall and honor America's Legacy of Service, including those serving in our nation's armed forces today.
Australia is also a major partner of VVMF’s campaign to build the Education Center at The Wall and has contributed $3.3m towards its development. The Center will also recognize America’s partners in service and honor the 521 Australians who made the ultimate sacrifice. Their images can be seen online at http://australia.vvmf.org/.
To learn more about the future Education Center, click here.