Vietnam vet recounts bravery witnessed at Long Tan

Bob Buick recalled seeing another soldier calling in artillery fire while on his hands and knees during the Battle of Long Tan. (File photograph)
Bob Buick recalled seeing another soldier calling in artillery fire while on his hands and knees during the Battle of Long Tan. (File photograph) Darryn Smith

A SUNSHINE Coast Vietnam veteran has given an emotional recount of acts of bravery he witnessed during the Battle of Long Tan.

Bob Buick, 75, of Mountain Creek, paused to overcome his emotions several times during a hearing by the Defence Honours and Appeals Tribunal into the recognition awarded to soldiers who fought in the battle.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Harry Smith asked the tribunal to reconsider honours for 13 soldiers, 10 of whom did not received any award for their roles in the battle and three of whom the former commander believes should have been given a higher award.

Mr Buick, who had taken over as sergeant of the 11th platoon only two weeks before the battle, told of seeing one of the men, Second Lieutenant Gordon Sharp, "crawling on his hands and knees" trying to call in artillery support.

"When I look back, he did a very foolish but gutsy thing," Mr Buick said.

Mr Buick said described Mr Sharp, who perished in the battle, as being out for a "good time" rather than a "hard time" but when the crunch came, he had "performed magnificently".

He also praised Lance Corporal Barry Magnussen for assuming leadership of his section when the section commander was not there, Private Allen May who remained on duty in the same section, and Corporal William "Billy" Moore for his role in the enemy's attempts to attack another section.

The Tribunal is also being asked to reconsider the decision to award a Distinguished Conduct Medal to Warrant Officer Jack Kirby rather than a Victoria Cross.

It is also being asked to reconsider honours decisions for Second Lieutenant Adrian Roberts, Sergeant Frank Alcorta, and Privates Neil Bextrum, Ron Brett, Ian Campbell, Noel Grimes, Geoffrey Peters and William Roche.

Mr Buick pointed out that previous reviews of honours awarded during the Battle of Long Tan had only considered historical documents.

He said the current review had the ability to obtain more detail direct from men who were there.

The Tribunal will hold its third and final day of hearings in a room at The Sebel, Maroochydore, tomorrow, Thursday, March 3.

During a break yesterday, Lt Col Smith said he was pleased the Tribunal was conducting a detailed review.

"I'm very hopeful that they'll be able to make a very fair judgement of everyone at the least."

Topics:  battle of long tan vietnam veterans vietnam war

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