Hundreds of Australians serving in Viet Nam were honoured by the United States of America, the Republic of South Viet Nam and Cambodia for personal gallantry, service and as part of a unit or formation. Personnel from the Australian Navy, Army and Air Force and those serving in non-military employment were all recipients.
In 1995 the Australian government authorised the acceptance and the wearing of personal USA awards, Unit Awards was permitted from 1968 when D Company 6RAR was presented with the US Presidential Citation (Army).
December 1997 the Australian Government produced a Special Gazette to include awards from the Republic of South Vietnam (SVN) and Cambodia. Awards from the USA government was covered in a gazette of 1995.
Based on the information in Special Gazette S548 dated 22 December 1997 a number of applications were forwarded to various government ministers and the Army seeking approval for acceptance and the wearing of the Vietnamese Awards intended for those Australian warriors named as recipients to the Honours and Awards parade held at Nui Dat, the Australian base in Phuoc Tuy Province on 2 September 1966.
The government of the 1966 advised that Australians were unable to accept foreign awards without approval from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. General Thieu, the then Chief of State, Vice President and Commander in Chief if the Republic of Viet Nam Armed Forces was caught between the a rock and a hard place. To 'save face' and honour the intent, he presented a gift instead of the medal on the understanding that approval would be sort and given, for the gallantry awards to individuals and the Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation to be presented at a later date.
Names of Recipients
Newspaper report of the day
Applications for the acceptance were submitted with the issuing of Special Gazette S548. For months there was no reply to correspondence from the Minister responsible for the administration of the applications to wear foreign decorations. Eventually a letter in reply was received stating that the South Vietnamese government did not intend to present decorations.
A year later, after irrefutable evidence was presented debunking that line, the next correspondence said that they intended to present but declined to do so. That too has been shown be incorrect. Mixed amongst all these false statements the government line changed saying that as the Vietnamese government no longer in exists no approval could be sort. A letter from South Vietnamese ambassador also reinforced his government's intention was not accepted.
Additional evidence was then presented to two Government Reviews, the End of Viet Nam War List. Its Term of Reference were too narrow to encompass these submissions.
Submissions were then presented to the other committee, the Southeast Asia Review into Anomalies of Service 1955 to 1975. This Committee also stated that its Terms of Reference did not permit the Long Tan submissions and referred the applicants back to the End of War Review. Reading the terms of reference to the SE Asia Review certainly indicates that this review was the correct place for the submission, not the End of War List Review.
At the time of assembling this page, November 1999, nothing has been resolved.
The government refuses to accept those submissions presented privately and to the Reviews into the Honours and Awards. The government had set the Terms of Reference that also allowed the exclusion of all Long Tan Warriors from any South Vietnamese awards.
Then after many months of frustration and anger the government suddenly released copies of cables from the Ambassador for Viet Nam Lewis Border to The Department of External Affairs in Canberra. These documents are part of the secret file held in Foreign Affairs and Trade as indicated to General Mohr, Chairman to a Review Committee.
These documents only continued to stiffen the resolve of those requesting fairness and justice.
The Commanding Officer of D Company 6RAR wrote to Mr Tran Van Lam who at the time, 18 August 1966, was President to the South Vietnamese Senate, later to become Ambassador to Australia. This letter was submitted to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Office as additional proof in support to previous submissions. Again the government refuted the claim.
Since 1996 the government has replied in the same manner, some replies verbatim to previous correspondence. The bureaucrats have effectively put the shutters up and across all departments the same standard replies are being received.
A search for photographic evidence of General Thieu presenting the gifts and not medals drew a blank. All evidence of this parade and presentation of gifts in all government departments has been erased. Thankfully Australia's free press carried the event in its publications otherwise there is no official proof that it ever took place.
An attempt is now being made to contact Gen Thieu who presented dolls instead of medals to the Australians. We know the truth but have been unable to convince our government to accept its bungling in the past.
Change of mind by government 26 June 2004
THE HON MAL BROUGH MP
MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT SERVICES
MINISTER ASSISTING THE MINISTER FOR DEFENCE
26 June 2004
22 VETERANS RECOGNISED FOR GALLANTRY AT LONG TAN
The Australian Government has today announced that 22 Veterans of the Battle of Long Tan have been granted permission by the Governor General to wear honours offered by the then South Vietnamese Government 38 years ago.
"'Following the Battle of Long Tan, the then South Vietnamese Government sought to award 22 soldiers of Delta Company 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment with military decorations for gallantry. During the course of the course of the Vietnam War, presentation of the medals did not take place due to protocol concerns held by the Australian Government at the time," Assistant Defence Minister, Mal Brough said today.
Understandably Australian Governments over time had difficulty resolving the issue following the demise of the former South Vietnamese Government. Noting there as no way to resolve the matter, a rare discretion in the principles of the Honours and Awards system was employed to allow those medals that were awarded, to be worn."
"The Howard Government agrees that there is sufficient evidence that the honour was bestowed on these gallantry men of the Australian Army, and Delta Company 6 RAR in particular."
"Obviously the Australian Government cannot issue the medals, however, we can complete the role the Australian Government does have and grant permission for those Awards, where available, to be worn. This small gesture honours these brave men."
"The Vietnamese conflict is part of our history. We now have a very different view and positive relationship with Vietnam, as do many of our Veterans groups. Together we can honour the lives lost on both sides."
The list of relevant Awards that the intended recipients can wear is attached
Media Enquiries: David Moore 0417 774 724
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medals
Delta Company The Sixth Battalion Royal Australian Regiment
The Battle of Long Tan
National Order of Vietnam 5th Class
Brig O.D. Jackson [1ATF]
Maj H. Smith [D6RAR]
Cross of Gallantry with Palm
Lt Col C.M. Townsend [CO6RAR]
Capt C. Mollison [A6RAR]
2nd Lt D. Sabben [D6RAR]
2nd Lt G. Kendall [D6RAR]
Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star
Sgt R.S. Buick [D6RAR]
Cpl W.R. Moore [D6RAR
LCpl W. Roche [D6RAR]
LCpl B. Magnusson [D6RAR]
Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star
Pte G. Peters [D6RAR]
Pte A. May [D6RAR]
Pte N. Bextram [D6RAR]
Pte N. Grimes [D6RAR]
Pte I. Campbell [D6RAR]
Pte W. Akell [D6RAR]
Tpr P. McNamara [1APC]
LCpl G. Truss [A6RAR]
Bdr A. Graham [161 Bty RNZA]
Gnr P. Prosser [1 Fd Regt]
Sgt R. Richards [1APC]
Posthumous Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star
Cpl P.E. Clements [1APC]