Epic battle displayed courage of Anzacs
A COPY of Major Warrick Talbot's speech at the Vietnam Veteran's Day Ceremony:
It is both an honour and a privilege to be here this morning to commemorate and remember Vietnam Veterans Day and the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.
Having served with the 6th Battalion, it is a battle that we are well versed in.
I recently reviewed LT COL Harry Smith's outline of the event from the Australian War Memorial and will refer directly to elements from that.
Following a mortar attack very early on the morning of 17 August, Bravo Company was sent out to investigate the Point of Origin (POO) in the vicinity of Long Tan rubber plantation.
They identified the baseplates but no enemy and secured that location for 24 hours, handing over to Delta Company on the 18th of August.
Tasked with searching for the enemy, Delta Company didn't have to wait long as eight Viet Cong walked straight into 11 Platoon's position. Following initial exchange of fire, 11 Platoon followed up the withdrawing Viet Cong only to run into a significantly larger force.
The battle that ensued required a genuine combined arms effort. Delta Company, isolated and pinned down resisted a force of Viet Cong estimated at up to 3000.
Support to Delta Company came in the form of artillery, USAF close air support, Iroquois resupply and eventual reinforcement via M113 APCs.
It was the tenacious spirit demonstrated in this battle, against all odds and in similar battles during the Vietnam conflict that reinforced the Anzac spirit at least among the serving Australians at that point for it was until 1987 the proper level of recognition was levelled at the veterans.
Many of lessons experienced during the Vietnam conflict are evident today in the way we train.
Whilst we maintain a strong Espirit de Corps we acknowledge the need for Combined Arms action.
No weapons system works well in isolation; it is the co-ordination of battlespace effects that will unhinge an enemy's centre of gravity.
I experienced this only last week with a junior platoon from 6 RAR conduction Airmobile training in Multi-Role Helicopters with Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter escort and PC-9 Forward Air Controllers co-ordinating joint fires onto simulated targets.
Based upon my previous role as Officer Commanding Jungle Training Wing at Tully, I can attest to the fact that many of those lessons learnt from the Vietnam conflict, including Tactics, Techniques and Procedures are taught and revised for today's soldiers.
From Boer War through to Afghanistan, characteristic traits have been associated with Australian soldiers.
This epic battle and many other that the Australians were involved in, reinforced those traits for which Australian soldiers have become world renowned: courage, determination, mateship, teamwork, leadership and tenacity, compassion and humour.
On this 48th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, I'd like, on behalf of a grateful nation and community thank the gallant participants of that battle, and all the veterans who serviced their country in the conflict that was Vietnam.
We honour those who did not return and those who returned injured in body or mind. None will be forgotten; nor indeed with the families and loved ones who supported us.
Lest we forget.