Port Macquarie RSL sub-branch hosts Vietnam Veterans Day ceremony

On August 18, 1966, 108 soldiers from 1st Australian Task Force engaged some 2000 North Vietnamese in a battle that would define Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

The Battle of Long Tan was remembered on Friday with about 60 people attending a service at Port Macquarie’s McInherney Park.

Port Macquarie RSL sub-branch president Greg Laird said it was ‘absolutely great’ to see so many people attend the service.

“This is about Vietnam Veterans getting together to remember our involvement in that war,” he said.

“It was pleasing that the event also attracted non-ex servicemen men and women too.

“We, as returned veterans, appreciate that support.”

Newman Senior Technical College school captains Lachlan Ross and Ruby Dickson gave the main address.

Mr Laird, a Vietnam Veteran, said the day was remembering and honouring those who fought for Australia and also the Battle of Long Tan.

“I think it is important that people remember the whole of the Vietnam War on day’s like this,” he added.

I think it is important that people remember the whole of the Vietnam War on day’s like this.

RSL sub-branch president Greg Laird

Long Tan is considered a decisive Australian victory providing a major setback for the Viet Cong.

Vietnam Veterans Day – originally Long Tan Day – commemorates the men of D Company, 6RAR who fought in the battle of Long Tan in 1966. On that day, 108 Australian and New Zealand soldiers fought a pitched battle against over 2000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops in a rubber plantation not far from 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 armoured 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.