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The Battle of Long Tan 50th anniversary

Date : 17 / 08 / 2016
Author : Jim Linton - VK3PC

Amateur Radio is part of the 50 year commemoration of the Battle of Long Tan - which is also Vietnam Veterans Day – following the ACMA’s issuing of two callsigns to mark the important anniversary.

Mal Johnston VK6LC has been given VI6BLT50, while other veterans may apply through the WIA to use on a roster basis and other conditions, the callsign VI5BLT50. Serving in the Royal Australian Signals in Vietnam, Mal VK6LC has the commemorative callsign VI6BLT50 issued from August 17 for about a month. The WIA recognising that others who served in Vietnam and elsewhere, might also join the commemoration and obtained VI5BLT50. The commemorative callsigns are sought as Australians pay honour to the Vietnam War service and sacrifice of our servicemen and women.

A number of the soldiers from that battle will also finally be awarded gallantry awards / medals, following sustained campaigning from D Company commander, retired Lieutenant Colonel Harry Smith. Almost 60,000 were in Vietnam from 1962 until 1975, 521 lost their lives, and more than 3,000 were wounded. Many more veterans suffered and are still suffering because of their service.

The Battle of Long Tan was on August 18, 1966. It was the one of the fiercest battles fought by Australian soldiers in the Vietnam War. For three and a half hours, in the pouring rain, the mud and shattered rubber plantation trees called Long Tan, Major Smith led a company of 108 young and mostly inexperienced Australian and New Zealand soldiers, to hold off an enemy force of 2,500 hardened soldiers. They were outnumbered 20 to 1. Long Tan is the true story of ordinary boys who became extraordinary ANZAC men.

It was one of the most savage and decisive engagements in our history, earning both the United States and South Vietnamese Presidential Unit Citations for gallantry along with many individual awards. But sadly, cost the lives of 18 Australians and more than 500 enemy were killed. Heroism, tragedy and the sacrifice of battle, Long Tan is a gruelling and dramatic exploration of war with all its horror, that will rightly take its place alongside war classics such as Gallipoli, Breaker Morant, Saving Private Ryan, Zulu & Blackhawk Down.

The official program of events include a Parliamentary Reception on August 17, and a National Service at the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial in Canberra. This will be followed a day later by a Commemorative Parade at Enoggera Barracks, Brisbane.

Any inquiries about the commemoration by radio amateurs are welcomed by Mal VK6LC who is listed on qrz.com

The Battle of Long Tan - We Remember 50 years on - Lest We Forget.


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