Review of Long Tan medals

Discussion in 'Barracks' started by Antipodean Andy, Oct 12, 2007.

  1. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member,23599,22574184-29277,00.html

    THE Federal Government has appointed an independent panel to review the controversial awarding of medals stemming from the 1966 Battle of Long Tan in Vietnam.

    It follows longstanding complaints from those involved in the battle, in which 18 Australians died, that recommendations for awards were downgraded and ignored.

    Prime Minister John Howard, who is expected to call an election as early as tomorrow, said a three-member panel would conduct the review.

    "As a result of continuing representations from the ex-service community, the Government has decided to appoint an independent panel to review the treatment of award recommendations stemming from the Battle of Long Tan," he said.

    Mr Howard said the battle was the first significant engagement of the Vietnam War and had come to be considered a defining event in Australia's history.

    Mr Howard said the review panel would comprise retired Major General Peter Abigail, former deputy chief of the army and now director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute; retired Major General Steve Gower, a Vietnam veteran, former head of training command who is currently director of the Australian War Memorial; retired Brigadier Gerry Warner, former chief of staff of land headquarters; and military secretary to the Governor-General who is currently a member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

    Mr Howard said the review would start as soon as possible and report by February 28.

    He said it would examine available documents and consider the nature and context of the battle and the processes that followed concerning individual and collective recognition.

    It would seek to arrive at a fair and sustainable response to claims for further recognition, he said.
    "The review will have regard to the Imperial gallantry awards recommended at the time as well as claims for the award of the South Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation.

    The panel will interview relevant key individuals," he said.

    Controversy has surrounded the issue of bravery medals for those who fought at Long Tan.

    At the time, Australia used the imperial awards system and, at the outset, senior Australian officers in Vietnam downgraded the awards recommended to Long Tan soldiers.

    Delta Company Commander Major Harry Smith was originally recommended for a Distinguished Service Order - second only to the Victoria Cross - but that was downgraded to the Military Cross.

    Maj Smith recommended two of his platoon commanders for the Military cross but their awards were downgraded to mentioned-in-dispatches (MID) - the same as awarded to the task force postal officer on the same list.

    One platoon commander who died in the fighting was recommended for a posthumous MID but received no recognition at all.

    There were also recommendations for awards to soldiers in the relieving company which were never processed.

    Labor has promised to conduct an inquiry.
  2. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    Though the issue deserves to be reviewed, and I hope it is successful, part of me wonders about the timing of the announcement. They had 40 years to review this case. Iraq? Afghanistan?

    Or am I just being overly cynical?
  3. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Try a possible election in November! Still, it's good to get these things done.
  4. morse1001

    morse1001 Guest

    I Have read the book onthe battle of Long Tan, and I am surprised to find out that they only got a few low level medals.

    The force deserved some form of recognition in on form or another! So I haope the medals are upgraded.
  5. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    This travesty has always been a bone of contention. Due to the public resentment of the conflict, the politicians of the day showed no spine in rewarding these men for their brave and heroic defence of their position against insurmountable odds and won.

    To award the medals that were warranted, would have been seen as glorifying this most unpopular war amid some of the biggest war protests ever.

    Let us hope that these Vietnam boys will at last be able to stand tall. They were sent to war by the government and did their duty.

    The politicians are the ones who ran for cover, not our soldiers.

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