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Australian Defence Force members who served during the Vietnam war have been recognised with the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation (the Citation).
The Citation was awarded by the former Government of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) to specific military units that distinguished themselves in battle. The Governor-General has formally approved the awarding of the Citation to identified Australian military units in recognition of their service during the Vietnam war.
To be eligible for the Citation, Navy and Air Force members must have served in Vietnam under the operational control of United States Military Assistance Command Vietnam posted to one of the following units, during the eligible dates:
The Governor-General has previously approved the following Army units to wear the insignia of the Citation for their service in Vietnam.
The Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation is a singular device.
Individuals are not eligible to wear the Citation device until they have been formally approved to do so through the application process.
Approval to wear the Citation does not give a person the authority to wear the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry. This is an individual decoration that was awarded to a number of Australians by the Government of the Republic of Vietnam in recognition of their individual acts of gallantry.
Individuals who believe they could be eligible are asked to submit an application.
Family members of deceased Australian Defence Force members who may be eligible are asked to submit an application. See Granting of Unissued Service Awards of Deceased Members.
The palm on the Citation is bronze, rather than gold, and previously issued citation devices are incorrect. Personnel wishing to obtain the bronze palm device should return their existing device for replacement. Ensure full name, service number, address and contact details are included with the returned device. The mailing address is:
Directorate of Honours and Awards
PO BOX 7952
CANBERRA BC ACT 2610
In late 1966, Clearance Diving Team 3 (CDT 3) was established specifically for deployment to the Vietnam War to assist the overworked United States Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal units. This also gave Royal Australian Navy personnel an opportunity to complete clearance diving work in an operational environment. Sending CDT 1 or CDT 2, in full or in part, would have impacted on the teams' existing commitments, along with the continuity of training and postings. CDT 3 was formed from available personnel; this was sufficient to keep a six-man team on station in Vietnam from early 1967 until early 1971, with six-month deployments. CDT 3 was disbanded at the end of the Vietnam War.
Between February 1967 and May 1971 eight contingents of RAN clearance divers deployed to South Vietnam.
The first contingent of six men arrived in Vietnam on 6 February 1967. This team was initially attached to a United States Navy explosive ordnance disposal team stationed in Saigon. They then relocated to Vung Tau assuming responsibility for the defence of shipping against enemy attack, known as Operation Stable Door. There the team was responsible for searching the hulls and anchor cables of shipping in the Vung Tau anchorages, or alongside, for improvised explosive devices or the presence of enemy swimmers. Additional tasks involved the salvage of downed military helicopters, searching villages for ammunition caches and demolishing Viet Cong cave and tunnel complexes.
As part of its original directive, CDT3 was prohibited from participating in SEAL type operations (United States Navy Special Forces) or operations conducted along the Cambodian border. The restriction on the former was removed in January 1969, thereby permitting team members to make full use of their unique skills. As a consequence, the operational focus from 1969 shifted towards the provision of explosive ordnance disposal support for offensive operations, with team members frequently attached to United States and South Vietnamese Special Forces. These operations intensified in 1970 such that individual members often came under enemy fire while they were engaged in destroying bunker complexes, tunnels, trenches, observation posts and log barricades erected by the Viet Cong in the rivers and waterways of the Mekong Delta.
Between 1967 and 1971, the Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam (RANHFV), was fully integrated with the US Army 135th Assault Helicopter Company (AHC) flying Iroquois helicopters in both the utility and gun-ship configurations. The role of 135th AHC was to provide tactical air movement of combat troops, supplies and equipment in air-mobile operations. This included augmentation of army medical services, search and rescue and the provision of a command and control aircraft capability. The RANHFV ceased operations on 8 June 1971. During its four-year deployment to Vietnam, over 200 FAA personnel had rotated through the RANHFV in four contingents. They were continuously engaged in offensive operations over this period.
In May 1964, six of the RAAF new Caribou transport aircraft were sent to Vietnam and it was decided to establish the new unit for Vietnam in Butterworth and the RAAF Transport Flight Vietnam (RTFV) was formed on 21 July 1964. On 8 August RTFVs first three Caribous arrived at Vung Tau, Vietnam with the Caribous being integrated into the Southeast Asia Airlift System, operated by the United States Air Force (USAF), and became part of the 315th Troop Carrier Group (Assault), which later became the 315th Air Commando Wing. RTFV flew its first operational mission on 14 August.
The unit transported personnel and equipment into some 115 airfields of varying surfaces and dimensions throughout the Republic of Vietnam. The Caribous also carried livestock, mail, fuel drums, and even peasant workers. As the RTFV aircraft used the call-sign Wallaby, the unit quickly became known as ‘Wallaby Airlines’. On 1 June 1966, RTFV was renamed 35 Squadron at Vung Tau in South Vietnam, assigned to the 834th Air Division, of the USAF Seventh Air Force. By June 1971, the squadrons remaining seven aircraft were reduced to four with the squadron flying its last operation on 13 February 1972.
In June 1966, 9 Squadron (SQN) was based at Vung Tau providing troop-lift capacity for the 1st Australian Task Force, and re-supplying troops in the field with food, ammunition, clean clothing and stores. In 1967 the squadron was re-equipped with updated versions of the Iroquois, and was also reinforced with personnel from the RAN and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Operations in South Vietnam proved hazardous, with aircrews regularly exposed to ground fire, poor flying conditions, nighttime medevacs and dangerously small jungle landing zones that were sometimes booby trapped with land mines. The unit lost seven Iroquois and two crewmen in action during its deployment. As part of the general Australian withdrawal, No. 9 Squadron departed South Vietnam on 8 December 1971.
Eight RAN pilots were attached to 9SQN, the RAN detachment to 9SQN played a significant part in enabling it to meet its army support role in Phuoc Tuy Province during 1968 and into 1969, until the last of Navy’s pilots returned home in May that year.
547 Signal Troop was a small signals intelligence unit which operated in direct support of the 1st Australian Task Force in South Vietnam between 1966 and 1971, providing the Task Force with a tactical signals intelligence capability.
The decision to send 547 Signal Troop to South Vietnam was made only two months before embarkation. The Troop was the last unit added to the order of battle and was limited to a strength of 15 men due to the overall manpower ceilings imposed by the Australian Government.
Operationally the Troop was committed to a role of intermediary between allied radio research units and the Task Force Headquarters under the operational control of United States Military Assistance Command Vietnam (USMACV). During this time, 547 Signal Troop was under operational control of 509th Radio Research Group and assigned for operational purposes to the Radio Research element responsible for that region, the 303rd Radio Research Battalion, where they were directed to coordinate intelligence gathering.
With the close liaison established with the Headquarters 1st Australian Task Force, it became apparent that 547 Signal Troop could perform more than an intermediary role. In fact, some agencies soon began to request more of the intelligence obtained by 547 Signal Troop and soon became dependent on the Troop as a source of intelligence, advising Australian operational commanders of the locations and impending movements of the enemy. The organisation of the Troop evolved during the conflict and included sections specialising in search and interception, analysis, airborne radio direction finding and the operation of experimental high frequency direction finding equipment.