Recognition at last for Long Tan soldiers

Monday, 7 November 2016

A fight lasting almost half a century to get recognition for soldiers who fought at the Battle of Long Tan has finally been won.

Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said today at Government House, 10 soldiers received an award, including Bargara resident Sergeant Frank Alcorta, for their efforts in Vietnam.

“It’s been a long time coming, but I’m thrilled that retired Lieutenant Colonel Harry Smith’s determination paid off.

“I gave Harry a commitment in my maiden speech over three years ago that we would find a way to recognise his soldiers, so I’m so pleased that this has finally happened today.

“We are indebted to Harry’s soldiers, and all service personnel for the sacrifices they made in service to this Nation.”
The soldiers who received awards today are: Lieutenant Adrian Roberts, Sergeant Frank Alcorta, Lance Corporal Barry Magnussen (deceased), Second Lieutenant Gordon Sharp (deceased), Privates Neil Bextrum, Ron Brett (deceased), Ian Campbell, William Roche, Geoffrey Peters and Noel Grimes.

Mr Pitt moved a Private Members Bill in September 2014 that called for justice, recognition and acknowledgement for the men of Delta Company who fought in the Battle of Long Tan.

A week before the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan in August, it was announced that 10 soldiers who fought in the battle would be awarded a military honour or have their existing honour upgraded.

“I was privileged to assist Harry by bringing his plight to the attention of the Federal Government, its ministers and Members of Parliament and at long last, justice, recognition and acknowledgement have finally been delivered.”

BACKGROUND: The Battle of Long Tan took place on 18 August 1966. It was the most costly single battle fought by Australian soldiers in the Vietnam War, involving 105 Australians and three New Zealanders from D Company 6RAR and more than 2,000 enemy troops. A total of 17 Australians were killed in action and 25 were wounded, one of whom later died from his wounds.

D Company were greatly assisted by an ammunition resupply by RAAF helicopters, close fire support from New Zealand’s 161 Field Battery, together with additional artillery support from the Australian task force base at Nui Dat and the arrival of reinforcements in APCs as night fell.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Keith’s Private Member’s Bill speech: https://keithpitt.com.au/news/pmb-recognition-long-tan-veterans