August 18th commemorates the Battle of Long Tan and has now been adopted by all veterans as Vietnam Veterans’ Day in Australia.
The Battle of Long Tan was fought in 1962 and saw an 108 man Australian battalion (Delta Coy) clash with more than two thousand Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam. The Australians prevailed, but lost 18 men. It was the largest loss of life in one operation since Australia’s involvement began and is often seen as the defining moment of Australia’s involvement in the war.
Sixty thousand Australians served in Vietnam. Countless people at home and abroad continue to feel the ricochet of that war today.
2012 is a year for even deeper reflection as it marks 50 years since the deployment of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (known as “the team”) arriving in South Vietnam on 3rd August 1962. It is also 40 years since our main forces cam home.
On this day here at home, and right around the world, Australians gather to remember. Above all, we honour those who gave their lives in Vietnam, and whose sacrifice in Australia’s name will never be forgotten. It is not to glorify war but to remember the comradeship, support, courage and sacrifice of those around the world who fought, those who supported them, those who died and those who still feel the loss today.