The extraordinary gallantry displayed by members of the 1st Australia Task Force (Forward) and associated units deployed to Area of Operations Surfers during the Battle of Fire Support Base Coral and the Battle of Fire Support Base Balmoral is being recognised by the Unit Citation for Gallantry today in Canberra.
CAPTION: Bill Thurley shows Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove a new diorama of the Battle of FSB Coral following a 50th anniversary parade at 1RAR. Photo by Major Al Green.
Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester said the Battles of Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral were among the largest and most protracted battles fought by Australians in the Vietnam War.
“The men who fought at Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral displayed collective gallantry that is worthy of the Unit Citation for Gallantry,” Mr Chester said.
“Throughout the 26 days of the battle a force comprised of up to 3000 Australians prevailed against a well-prepared and numerically superior enemy.
“This year sees the 50th Anniversary of the Battles of Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral and it is timely that we are able to recognise the courageous service displayed by the members of the units involved.”
Mr Chester offered no explanation or apology for the 50-year delay in recognising this “extraordinary gallantry”.
Veterans of eligible units for the Unit Citation for Gallantry are encouraged to apply directly to the Department of Defence, through the Defence Medals Online Application form available at: www.defence.gov.au/medals
Eligible units are:
- 1st Australian Task Force (Forward)
- 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment
- 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment
- A Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment
- C Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment
- 12th Field Regiment, Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery
- 1st Field Squadron, Royal Australian Engineers.
Members of the below units who flew missions in direct support of the battles, or who were forward deployed to the Fire Support Bases, are also entitled to wear the Citation insignia:
- No 9 Squadron RAAF
- 161 Reconnaissance Flight
Family members of deceased veterans are also encouraged to apply for the insignia.
In 2017, the government directed the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal to inquire into unit recognition for the Battles of Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral.
The Tribunal released the report of the Inquiry into Unit Recognition for Service at the Battles of Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral on 3 April 2018.
The report made five recommendations, which were supported by Defence and the Minister for Defence Personnel.
The recommendations were subsequently accepted by Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove.