From 1962, approximately 50,000 Australians, including ground troops, air force and navy personnel served in Vietnam. 521 died and close to 2,400 were wounded.
It is important to highlight that many young men were conscripted to serve in Vietnam. From 1965 to 1972, 19,450 national servicemen served in the Vietnam War, with 202 killed and 1,279 wounded. The National Service Scheme was abolished on 5 December 1972.
43 Australian Army nursing sisters were sent to Vietnam between April 1967 and November 1971, undertaking tours of up to twelve months. The nurses were assigned to a military hospital in a war zone with no advance preparation for what they'd encounter: caring for horrifically injured soldiers straight off the battlefield, understaffed, using basic equipment and often in difficult working conditions.
About 210 Australian nurses traveled to South Vietnam between 1964 and 1972 to care for injured civilians during the war.
Many Australian entertainers went to Vietnam to entertain the troops and were gratefully received.
It should be noted as well that the efforts of organisations like the Australian Red Cross, Salvation Army, Everymans Welfare and Australian Services Canteens, were greatly appreciated by Australians who served in Vietnam.
Click here for the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia (website). The Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia (VVAA) had its advent in the Vietnam Veterans Action Association, formed in late 1979 as a result of Vietnam Veterans exposure to chemicals that was causing problems with their health and the health of their children. The chemicals, known by the generic name of Agent Orange included 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D, a byproduct of which is the extremely poisonous substance TCDD or dioxin. The problems ranged from minor irritation to lethal, with symptoms such as skin blisters, itching, flushes, nasal problems, blurred vision, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, gastro-urinary muscular and nervous system disorders, cancers and tumors. This was often exacerbated by psychological disorders caused by what was later diagnosed as post traumatic stress disorder. The VVAA is a wholly volunteer body, whose sole interest is the welfare of veterans and the families of veterans.
Click here for The Casualty List (website). Many young Australians were killed or wounded in Vietnam. This website gives you the opportunity to read the names of those killed or wounded. You will see how young many were. You will also see where those that died are laid to rest.
Click here for the Nominal Roll of Vietnam Veterans (website). Also lists the names of people like merchant seamen, war correspondents, entertainers and others who were civilian participants.
The Battle of Long Tan was a defining event in what was Australia's longest war until the Afghanistan War. It was one of the most intensive actions Australian soldiers fought in Vietnam. On 18 August 1966, a rifle company of 108 men from D Company 6RAR, cut off and outnumbered by at least ten to one, withstood repeated, massed Viet Cong attacks for four hours. Many of the Australian soldiers were conscripts, barely out of their teens. The bravery and tenacity of the Australian soldiers became legendary. 18 young Australians lost their lives. 17 from D Company 6RAR, and 1 from the armoured personnel carriers (APC's). 24 were wounded. Of those that died, the youngest was 19 years old and the eldest was 22 years old. 11 were National Servicemen (conscripts) and 7 were Regular Army enlisted.
VIETNAM VETERANS DAY - 18TH AUGUST - LEST WE FORGET
Vietnam Veterans Day, celebrated on 18 August each year, is an opportunity to honour those Australians who served during the Vietnam War and remember those who died.
Comments regarding the Australian War Heroes Song that plays in the video above...
"I thought the music was a modern reflection on Australia's war dead... As a Vietnam veteran I would have to say that it is a wonderful tribute to all who have fallen."- Edmund 'Ted' Harrison
"I am taking a funeral tomorrow of a Vietnam Vet who died last week of cancer. The family would like to use your song... I am asking for permission to use it at the funeral." - E-mail from a Reverend
The official page for the song 'Can You Hear Australia's Heroes Marching?' is HERE