Why is August 18 recognised as Vietnam Veteran’s Day?

Local Veteran, Bob Carroll loading rockets in Vietnam

Local Veteran, Bob Carroll loading rockets in Vietnam

The Vietnam War was a long and bloody war, running from 1962 to 1975. During that time over 60,000 Australians served and over 500 made the supreme sacrifice for this country.

Vietnam Vet’s Day was originally known as Long Tan Day and August 18 was chosen to commemorate the men of D Company, 6RAR who fought in the battle of Long Tan in 1966.

108 Australian and New Zealand soldiers fought a pitched battle against more than 2000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops in a rubber plantation, not far from the small village of Long Tan.

The Australians prevailed, however they were nearly overrun, saved by a timely ammunition resupply, accurate artillery fire from the nearby Australian base, and the arrival of reinforcements by armoured personnel carrier.

The Australians and New Zealand soldiers fought for four hours in torrential rain – 18 Australians lost their lives and 24 were wounded, the largest number of casualties in one operation since the Australian task force had arrived a few months earlier.

After the battle, the bodies of 245 enemy soldiers were found, but there was evidence that many more bodies had been carried away.

On the third anniversary of Long Tan, 18 August 1969, a cross was raised on the site of the battle by the men of 6RAR. Veterans from the battle gathered at the cross to commemorate the fallen, and the day was commemorated as Long Tan Day.

Over time, all Vietnam veterans adopted the day to remember those who served and died in Vietnam.

In 1987, following the very successful Welcome Home parade for Vietnam veterans in Sydney, Prime Minister Bob Hawke announced that Long Tan Day would be known as Vietnam Veterans Day.

Since then, August 18 is a day to recognise the deeds of those who upheld the traditions of the Military in commitments made by the Governments of that time to defend the rights and freedom of others considered less fortunate in South Vietnam.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Battles of Coral and Balmoral and this will acknowledged during the Rainbow Beach RSL Sub Branch ceremony.

The Rainbow Beach RSL Sub Branch will conduct a memorial service to commemorate Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War, commencing 1100 hours on Saturday August 18 at the Cenotaph Rainbow Beach Road, Rainbow Beach.

The Tin Can Bay RSL Sub Branch will host a service commencing 1045 hours on Saturday August 18 at Tin Can Bay ANZAC Memorial Park, followed by a sausage sizzle at the sub-branch.

Note: sourced from www.awm.gov.au/articles/blog/vietnam-veterans-day