Alistair Brightman

Long Tan veterans honoured

MORE than 45 years after the Battle of Long Tan, Governor-General Quentin Bryce has honoured the 6RAR Delta company veterans with a unit citation for extraordinary gallantry in action.

Hervey Bay man Harry Smith, then a major, led 6RAR's Delta Company in a fierce firefight against with 2500 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese in the Long Tan rubber plantation on August 18, 1966.

The vastly outnumbered unit lost 18 soldiers with another 24 wounded.

Two hundred and fifty enemy soldiers were killed and scores more hurt.

But despite the unit's heroic actions, the former Lieutenant Colonel Harry Smith was forced to fight for their right to recognition.

After decades of bureaucratic brush-offs, Lt Col Smith was presented with a Star of Gallantry medal in March this year.

And he will finally rest easy after his fellow soldiers were given the citation on Thursday.

"It is very belated, but I am proud that they have been recognised," he said.

While he could not be at the service at Gallipoli Barracks in Enoggera due to ill-health and distance, Lt Col Smith said it was a relief to finally have the men given proper acknowledgement for their heroism.

The Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon, joined a formal parade and presentations at Gallipoli Barracks on Thursday.

Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Senator the Hon David Feeney said the Battle of Long Tan had great symbolic importance for all Australians.

"We must never forget the service and sacrifice of these brave Australians who fought with great courage and valour in the face of adversity," he said.

"On this significant day I recognise and commemorate the 6 RAR veterans who fought in the battle and I congratulate them on this truly deserved award."

The parade also included the presentation of a Meritorious Unit Citation to recognise the efforts of numerous members of the Mentoring Task Force 1 (MTF-1) during their recent deployment to the ongoing commitment in Afghanistan.

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