One of the most highly decorated units of the Vietnam War celebrated the 60th anniversary of its formation with a memorial service at Kokoda Barracks on July 30.
CAPTION: National President of the AATTV Association Colonel (retd) Kerry Gallagher, left, and President of RSL Queensland Major General Stephen Day unveil the Operation Reunite memorial at Kokoda Barracks. Story by Captain Ashlea Tighe. Photo by Signals Christopher Kingston.
More than 160 people gathered to remember the contribution of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) and its 1008 members who provided training and assistance to South Vietnamese forces over a decade of war.
They were the first Australian unit into Vietnam in 1962 and the last to leave in 1972.
National President of the AATTV Association Colonel (retd) Kerry Gallagher said the organisation was unique.
“The team was made up entirely of volunteers of all ranks and we often worked as individuals or in pairs, living and fighting shoulder to shoulder with Vietnamese forces,” Colonel Gallagher said.
“We developed close bonds with our colleagues and have friendships continuing today.”
Commanding Officer of the Land Warfare Centre at Kokoda Barracks, Lieutenant Colonel Wendy Say, said the AATTV forged an enviable reputation.
“The AATTV were known for their relentless perseverance in supporting the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam,” Lieutenant Colonel Say said.
“They made an extraordinary contribution to the war effort and also to our nation’s reputation and relationships abroad.”
For its size, the AATTV is one of the most decorated units in the history of the Australian Army.
There were four Victoria Cross recipients amongst the training team ranks, with 110 other Commonwealth awards for bravery. 33 training team members were killed and 122 were wounded during the Vietnam War.
The commemorative service showcased the carefully curated memorial grove.
“The grove is a living memorial, featuring a tree for each member with a stake featuring their name, rank and regiment,” Colonel Gallagher said.
“As a part of the memorial service we unveiled a new sandstone plinth for the row of memory to honour 33 members killed and a memorial stone plaque for five team members killed in action whose bodies were returned to Australia under Operation Reunite,” he said.
Kokoda Barracks is fitting home to an AATTV memorial.
The Jungle Training Centre, as it was known at the time, was the primary training location for all AATTV elements prior to deployment to Vietnam.