Soldiers of the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR), joined Vietnam War veterans to commemorate Long Tan Day in Brisbane on August 18.
CAPTION: Soldiers of 6RAR and members of the Long Tan Veterans Association light a candle during the Battle of Long Tan service held at St John’s Cathedral. Story and photo by Captain Cody Tsaousis.
The Battle of Long Tan is embedded in Australian Army history, and a number of activities were planned to recognise its significance.
The day began with a church service at St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane City, and was followed by a 6RAR museum visit, remembrance walk, combat shooting demonstration and a dinner at Gallipoli Barracks.
After demonstrating their shooting capabilities, current soldiers spoke with the men who fought so valiantly in Vietnam 56 years ago.
“Today means a lot to us at 6RAR and the Army as a whole, and it’s been great to have the veterans here at Gallipoli Barracks,” Lieutenant Mitchell Rutter said.
“It’s an incredible experience to speak to the veterans, who had the same job as our soldiers, when they fought at Long Tan.
“It really puts into context why we do everything. These guys were in the same company who had to go and actually fight.”
It was an emotional time for the veterans, because of the memories brought up on Long Tan Day, but also to witness the respect and acknowledgement of their service.
President of the Long Tan Veterans Association, John Helsewood, fought in the battle as part of 11 Platoon. He said the day was close to his heart and it was great to speak with younger soldiers.
“The yearly commemoration means a lot to us; we look forward to it, and we love getting on the Army barracks again,” Mr Helsewood said.
“We enjoy talking to the diggers. Back in the old days they spoke to us about our experiences, and now we speak to them about their deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Delta Company always go out of their way to make us feel welcome, and we love getting involved.”