Howard visits Long Tan
The Prime Minister visited the battle scene at Long Tan yesterday and according to some veterans it wasn’t before time. I must admit I never felt anguished over the fact that a politician hadn’t visited the area but some obviously have and if that makes them happy then good. I note an old aquaintence gets a quote in the article;
For some veterans, such as Graeme “Breaker” Cusack, the first visit to the Long Tan site by an Australian prime minister was “great – but it’s 30 years too late”.
Breaker, a tattooed bikie and ex officer of 6RAR didn’t actually fight at the battle but was on duty at Nui Dat and now lives in Vung Tau as do quiet a few veterans. Married to locals they live the life of Riley with their military pensions putting them clearly in the millionaire status in the third world local economy.
I watched TV last night and wondered how professional journalists can make so many mistakes. Don’t they check anything? According to the journo D COy was ambushed (it was a encounter battle) by a battalion (it was a regiment plus) outside the Nui Dat Airbase (it was a military base).
The developing signifigence of the battle of Long Tan is discussed here by Peter Edwards an official historian of Australia’s involvement in Southeast Asian conflicts.
One thing that is conspicuously absent from any of the reports on the PM’s visit is any acknowledgement of the incredible generosity of the Vietnamese people in allowing a foreign war memorial on their soil.
I could not see any Australian city or town allowing a memorial to former enemy soldiers to be erected in less than a hundred years after the war it commemorated had concluded.
I get a little weary of some veteran’s past complaints that they were not allowed to wear their medals or their unit insignia at the Long Tan memorial. The sheer arrogance of this attitude is unbelievable. They seem to forget that we were the enemy. I know I would be less than impressed if a group of NVA turned up in uniform at Anzac day in my town.
Like you Kev, I do not find it particularly significant that the PM took the time to visit Long Tan, rather more politically expedient. If he had not gone there, there would have been howls of outrage from some of the more vocal ESO’s who seem to have “anyone but Howard” as their motto.
Can anyone else see the irony in Vietnam veterans who were sent to that country forty years ago to halt communist expansion now choosing to live there even though it is still under communist rule? Trying to think through the logic of this is doing my head in.
No, I don’t see the irony – we’re not talking aground swell here and the Communist Party are not quiet the same since the old men died and the “lockdown” was relaxed. Australians, a few veterans included, contribute a lot to the economy and social fabric of the country. I see good deeds, not irony.
Life moves on