Saturday, August 12, 2006

Long Tan, and our Vietnam Vets remembered.

This Friday, August 18th, will be the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan. On that day, a regiment of NVA and VC attacked a company of Aussies - D Company, 6th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment. They lost.

Information on Long Tan is available here, here, here, and here.

This has come to be, not just the anniversary of a battle, but a time to remember Australia's Vietnam Veterans, who did what their country and it's political leadership asked of them. In my view, they didn't lose. Vietnam was a place where the fight was taken to the communist adversary, where they were met, slowed, and where Australian servicemen served and fought in the best traditions of their forefathers.

History shows us that the ideological system they fought - on our behalf - folded a mere 14 years after that conflict ended, in 1989. So NO, they didn't fight in vain, nor did they lose.

So to our Vietnam Vets, I say; " Thank You for your service" and "Good On You Diggers".

Update: An editorial in The Australian 13Aug06;

"...It has been more than 30 years since the fall of Saigon. Although this newspaper opposed the war in hindsight, the history of Vietnam under communist rule seems to vindicate the effort. Ho Chi Minh's Stalinist regime was monstrous, even as it was lionised in the West. Vietnam still struggles under political and economic repression. But by stemming the totalitarian tide that was sweeping southeast Asia at the time, Australian and US troops may have saved countless millions."

a post on Kev Gillet's blog;

"...I never thought I’d live to see the day. In todays Australian [Aug 13 2006] the Vietnamese have admitted Australia won the Battle of Long Tan. With several hundred Vietnamese versus 18 Australians dead; with the fact neither the North Vietnamese Army nor the local Viet Cong never ever engaged Australians in major battles after that day and with their plan to annhilate the Australian Task Force by attacking the base with a 2,500 man regiment stopped dead by 108 Aussie infantrymen from Delta Coy, 6RAR; one wonders why anyone could ever think differently...."

"...The two Australians greeted their Vietnamese counterparts with warm handshakes in the plantation, near the memorial cross to the 18 Australians who died in the battle. After some small talk, the crucial question was posed to the Vietcong commanders: who won the battle of Long Tan? Nguyen Minh Ninh, former vice-commander of Vietcong D445 Battalion, thought carefully before answering - and then dropped a bombshell that exploded 40 years of official history. “You won … tactically and militarily, you won,” he said..."

and a post on MilBlogs via John of Argghhh!

This is important people. The Vietnamese (ex) adverary, AND the mainstream media say you not only won that battle, but that the war itself was worth it! About time. Bravo Zulu guys.

3 Comments:

Anonymous vee said...

No disrespect intended to any veterans but Vietnam has always highlighted to me the same problem as Iraq is currently now in and what the Nuremberg trials long before that. The problem with blindly following orders.

Monday, August 14, 2006 12:11:00 pm  
Blogger Phil said...

Hi Vee.Doing OK, but been interstate with work 2 out of the last 3 weeks.
Work was full-on, so blogging has suffered.

Friday, August 18, 2006 9:23:00 pm  
Blogger Phil said...

Post from Corsair (Tom) at this website;
http://www.synect.com/forum/

[quote]Some of those who served in SVN may well have felt that way but I wouldn't
call it a universal feeling. Sometimes it depended on whether you were a
regular or a nasho as to what your attitude was.

For myself and many of my friends, we initially had the belief that our job
there was to assist the SVN people to protect their democracy against
forcible conversion to Communism by forces invading from the north. Many may
say we were brain washed. That simply isn't so. We genuinely viewed the
situation as I described and therefore, initially, we felt that we were
going there in a good cause.

That changed fairly quickly. The one common factor in our operations in SVN
was that you never really knew who your friends were. The guy who was all
smiles and patting you on the back this morning may well be the same guy
shooting at you with an AK 47 that night.

Most of us quickly came to the realisation the the average Vietnamese
civilian was so under the control of the local VC that they wouldn't lift a
finger against them and we very quickly came to the conclusion that we were
being asked to put our lives on the line for people who didn't have the
courage to do the same.

In the end most of us came to the conclusion that it wasn't worth a single
Australian life. The Australian government of course, didn't want to know
and didn't particularly care. I believe that they were more concerned with
maintaining a good relationship with the Americans.

The US forces themselves often gave us soldiers pause. Most people can never
hope to understand what the US army is like, in force, in the field. There
were around 500,000 of them in SVN when I was there and their bases were
like small cities. When I was sent to support the 199th Light Infantry
Brigade at Long Binh, my jaw dropped. Firstly Long Binh was the biggest
military base you could ever hope to imagine. HQ MACV was a muti story
affair right in the middle. Each unit had its own bars, massage parlours,
prostitutes, SVN servants etc and the women making your beds during the day
could be seen pacing out distances from the perimeter to specific objectives
within the camp on a regular and quite open basis.

That night you would invariably be rocketed based on the information passed
on to the VC. When I angrily pointed out the stupidity of what was going on,
I was flabbergasted to be told by the senior officers of that Brigade that
they could not function as a unit in a base camp without the assistance of
the SVN civilians. We managed it quite well but the Yanks have a totally
different attitude. You may as well talk to aliens.

So what the Yanks were doing disillusioned us a great deal. Don't get me
wrong. Some of their units were outstanding but they just have a different
way of waging war and they don't win many hearts and minds in the process.

The other thing that got to us was the way we were being treated by our own
people in Australia. Strikes by postage staff, which affected letter
deliveries, strikes by wharfies which affected our supplies, the outspoken
support by many of the people of Australia of the communist forces and the
contempt and hatred that was meted out to many of us on our return scarred
us for the rest of our lives.

In the end most of us felt that we were simply a sop thrown into the arena
by an indifferent and cynical government who really didn't give a damn about
anything except how they were perceived by the Americans. Our sacrifices
meant nothing to them then and mean even less now. We also feel pretty
resentful to the silent majority of Australians who allegedly supported us
but didn't have the guts to speak up for us. The only real pleasure left to
many of us is to come in contact with the loud mouthed pinkos who screamed
out their invective against us and chanted things like "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi
Minh". This makes for some entertainment, I can tell you.

AS for the rest - don't ever blame the Vietnam war veterans for having an
"attitude". You don't know the half of it and can never hope to.[end quote].

To which I replied;
"Tom (Corsair), Thanks for your thoughts (msg 282).

If you have a look at some places I post at, you may recall I disagree with
you regards Vietnam being a waste of our vets efforts and lives, example
here;
http://pracs-blog.blogspot.com/2006/08/long-tan-and-our-vietnam-vets.html

"...In my view, they didn't lose,. Vietnam was a place where the fight was
taken to the communist adversary, where they were met, slowed, and where
Australian servicemen served and fought in the best tradititions of their
forefathers.

History shows us that the ideological system they fought - on our behalf -
folded a mere 14 years after that conflict ended, in 1989. So NO, they
didn't fight in vain, nor did they lose.

So to our Vietnam Vets, I say; " Thank You for your service" and "Good On
You Diggers"...".

You may have a point that it was a tactical setback. Even that is arguable.
The North sued for peace in '73, then used the ensuing peace to re-arm and
reorganise. Their victory in 1975 was a separate war, contravening the terms
of the peace you guys helped fight for. (You may know that Bob Buick -
www.bobbuick.com/ - makes this very point here;
http://www.bobbuick.com/viet_nam/DS_who_won.htm )

As I said, I believe Vietnam was a strategic victory for the west. The high
water mark of communist expansion.

I'd argue it also served Australia's strategic interest, as it again
demonstrated to Australia's potential adversaries that even outnumbered,
Aussie troops were qualatively of the highest order. A point repeatedly
proved on Kokada (Japanese division vs Australian battalion), in Korea at
Kapyoung and Maryong San, in Vietnam at Long Tan (and Coral, Balmoral).

You guys DIDN'T lose! You stopped a juggernaut stone dead in it's tracks,
and gave our potential adversaries food for thought.".

Sunday, August 20, 2006 7:22:00 pm  

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