Our Harry makes a win for Vietnam veterans
PAST Fraser Coast resident Harry Smith is a battle commander who fought for almost half a century to have his men recognised.
He believed the soldiers who fought at the Battle of Long Tan needed their courage and strength publicly acknowledged.
The Lieutenant Colonel's persistence paid off after half a century yesterday at Government House where Long Tan 10 soldiers received a special award for their efforts in Vietnam.
The award was either a military honour, or an upgrade of their existing honour.
Among them was Wide Bay resident Sergeant Frank Alcorta.
Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said: "It's been a long time coming, but I'm thrilled that retired Lieutenant Colonel Harry Smith's determination paid off," he said.
"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 the award were 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.
The news of the award ceremony came a week before the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan in August.
The Battle of Long Tan took place on August 18, 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 2000 enemy troops.
A total of 17 Australians were killed in action and 25 were wounded, one of whom later died from his wounds.