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The Hon Dan Tehan MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

10 August 2016

Military awards for Long Tan veterans

Minister for Defence Personnel Dan Tehan will recommend 10 soldiers who fought in the Battle of Long Tan be awarded a military honour or have their existing honour upgraded.

Mr Tehan today said he would write to the Prime Minister and the Governor-General seeking approval to accept each recommendation from the independent Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal review into the actions of 13 individual soldiers during the battle.

The Battle of Long Tan took place on 18 August 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 2,000 enemy troops. A total of 17 Australians were killed in action and 25 were wounded, one of whom later died from his wounds.

D Company were greatly assisted by an ammunition resupply by RAAF helicopters, close fire support from New Zealand's 161 Field Battery, together with additional artillery support from the Australian task force base at Nui Dat and the arrival of reinforcements in APCs as night fell.

The Tribunal recommended Medals of Gallantry for Lieutenant Adrian Roberts, Sergeant Frank Alcorta and Lance Corporal Barry Magnussen (deceased) and Commendations for Gallantry for Second Lieutenant Gordon Sharp (deceased), and Privates Neil Bextrum, Ron Brett (deceased), Ian Campbell, William Roche, Geoffrey Peters and Noel Grimes.

The Tribunal did not recommend a Victoria Cross for the late Warrant Officer Class 2 Jack Kirby (deceased).

The Tribunal found the Distinguished Conduct Medal awarded to WO2 Kirby in 1966 was, “the appropriate award to recognise [his] distinguished conduct and leadership in the field during the Battle.”

For Corporal William Moore (deceased) and Private Allen May, the Tribunal recommended the Chief of Army’s original decision to not award an honour be affirmed.

Mr Tehan paid tribute to Lieutenant Colonel Harry Smith (Retd) who was commanding officer of D Company 6RAR on the day and who made the application for the review in 2015.

“The independent Tribunal was tasked with investigating the actions of 13 Australians during the Battle of Long Tan and to make a recommendation about awarding military honours,” Mr Tehan said.

“I thank the Tribunal members for their thorough research and considered recommendations, awarding military honours is not something that is done lightly.

“It will be a great honour to write to the Governor-General and ask him to endorse the Tribunal’s recommendations in full.

“The gallant actions of those who fought in the Battle of Long Tan are among the stories of the 60,000 Australians whose service and sacrifice we will commemorate this year on Vietnam Veterans’ Day, which is also the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.”

The Tribunal’s full decision will be published online at https://defence-honours-tribunal.gov.au

Media Contacts:

Byron Vale (Minister Tehan’s Office) 0428 262 894
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999

Summary of recommendations
Recipient Birthplace
and DOB
What had
been awarded for service at Long Tan
DHAAT Review recommendation
Sergeant Francis Xavier ALCORTA OAM Born in the Basque region of Spain in 1936 Nil That Sergeant Alcorta be recommended for the Medal of Gallantry
Private Neil Raymond BEXTRUM Born in Carlton, Victoria on 21 May, 1945 Nil That Private Bextrum be recommended for the Commendation for Gallantry
Private Ronald Howard BRETT (deceased) Born in Gulargambone, New South Wales on 15 February, 1947 Nil That Private Brett be recommended for the Commendation for Gallantry
Private Ian Martin CAMPBELL Born in Brisbane on 9 June, 1945 Nil That Private Campbell be recommended for the Commendation for Gallantry
Private Noel John GRIMES Born in Brisbane 4 February, 1945 Nil That Private Grimes be recommended for the Commendation for Gallantry
Warrant Officer Class 2 John William KIRBY DCM (deceased) Born in Sydney on 11 February, 1935 Distinguished Conduct Medal That the Chief of Army’s decision be affirmed
Lance Corporal Barry Eugene MAGNUSSEN (deceased) Born in Brisbane on 15 May, 1945 Nil That Lance Corporal Magnussen be recommended of the Medal of Gallantry
Private Allen James MAY Born in Home Hill, Queensland on 26 March, 1945 Nil That the Chief of Army’s decision be affirmed
Corporal William Richard MOORE (deceased) Born in St George, Queensland on 2 June, 1941 Mention in Despatches That the Chief of Army’s decision be affirmed
Private Geoffrey Michael PETERS Born in Sydney on 25 June, 1946 Nil That Private Peters be recommended for the Commendation for Gallantry
Colonel Francis Adrian ROBERTS OAM Born in Midland Junction, Western Australia on 11 October, 1939 Mention in Despatches That Colonel Roberts return his Mention in Dispatches and be recommended for the Medal of Gallantry
Private Willian Alfred ROCHE Born in Nerrandera, New South Wales on 5 May, 1941 Nil That Private Roche be recommended for the Commendation for Gallantry
Second Lieutenant Gordon Cameron SHARP (deceased) Born in Tamworth, New South Wales on 17 March, 1945 Nil That Second Lieutenant Sharp be recommended for the Commendation for Gallantry

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.