- Five Aboriginal soldiers part of 108-strong D Company that fought at Long Tan
- The 1966 Battle of Long Tan was one of first major battles for Australians in Vietnam
- Australia's Vietnam War toll: 521 killed, more than 3,000 wounded
Veterans Issues Minister Peter Tinley has urged Western Australians to honour the contribution of Aboriginal veterans today, ahead of a broader commemoration tomorrow of Australia's servicemen and women who served in the Vietnam War.
The Minister's call comes the day before the 52nd anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan - a significant battle in 1966 and one of the first major conflicts for Australian forces in Vietnam.
Originally known as Long Tan Day, August 18 (tomorrow) has since evolved into Vietnam Veterans Day - a time to reflect on the selfless service of Australians in Vietnam.
The Battle of Long Tan, which occurred in a rubber plantation, centred on 105 Australians and three New Zealanders from D Company 6RAR, who fought against an overwhelming number of North Vietnamese Army and local Viet Cong soldiers.
Vastly outnumbered, D Company was ultimately saved by their own rigorous discipline under fire and by a timely resupply of ammunition, accurate artillery fire and the arrival of reinforcements in armored personnel carriers.
Recent research has suggested that five Australians fighting in the battle were Aboriginal. About 60,000 Australians served in the Vietnam War with 521 killed and more than 3,000 wounded. A total of 61 Western Australians were killed during the conflict.
Comments attributed to Veterans Issues Minister Peter Tinley:
"The Vietnam War, Australia's largest force contribution to a foreign conflict since World War Two, solidified the reputation of Australia's armed services as determined and courageous men and women who placed a high value on mateship and teamwork.
"The contribution of Aboriginal veterans deserves a special mention. At least 160 Aboriginal service personnel served in Vietnam, with seven dying as a result of their service.
"There are many Australians who still carry physical and emotional scars from Vietnam.
"Vietnam Veterans Day gives us all a chance to remember the sacrifices made by Australian service men and women during the Vietnam War, and honour all those who served."
Minister's office - 6552 5300