The community came together at Memorial Park in Grafton last Thursday August 18 to commemorate the Battle of Long Tan. The Vietnam Veterans Day commemoration recalled the deaths of 18 and the wounding of 24 Australian soldiers.
It is 50 years since 105 men of Delta Company, 6th Royal Australian Regiment (and three men from New Zealand’s 161 Field Battery), took on and defeated a force of more than 2,000 Viet Cong soldiers at the Long Tan rubber plantation.
On the Vietnamese side, at least 245 were killed and an estimated 350 were wounded; three were captured.
The big turnout, including schools from the area, was a reflection of society’s changing attitude towards Vietnam veterans, who were subjected to much public disdain on their return from service, due to widespread opposition to the Vietnam War in the 1960s.
Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson told the ABC that the battle of Long Tan was “the most dramatic battle, and costly, in which Australia was involved during the course of the Vietnam War”.
“It’s become a battle which has come to symbolise the Vietnam War, and the legacy from ANZAC which was carried by those young Australians,” he said.