In memory of Vietnam vet John Tootell
DAPHNE Tootell went to Vietnam earlier this year to walk where he husband John had walked 50 years ago.
John served in the Vietnam War from 1966-1967 in Nui Dat in the 103 Signal Corp.
"He wasn't in the battle (of Long Tan) but he was there at the same time,” she said.
Daphne went with her sister-in-law on behalf of John after he died six years ago.
"He had Parkinsons and was affected (by the war) like all the other fellas,” she said.
She went on group tour to Vietnam, especially for the 50th Anniversary.
"We walked on the beach and all the places where John had been,” she said.
"We were able to go to the camp and I knew I was walking where John was.”
Daphne said that was why she wanted to go over the the anniversary more so than to commemorate the battle.
Daphne and John first met in the Army.
She donated the plaque that was given to her to go on display in the Kingaroy RSL.
"On behalf of John and in his memory and all the members who served,” she said.
Daphne received a plaque to commemorate the 50-year anniversary event.
According to the Australian War Memorial, the first soldiers of the 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR) arrived in South Vietnam in May 1966, and the rest followed in June.
Within two months, elements of the battalion found themselves in one of the largest battles fought by Australians in the Vietnam War.
By August 1966 the Australian taskforce base at Nui Dat was only three-months-old.
Concerned at the establishment of such a strong presence in their midst, the Viet Cong was determined to inflict an early defeat on the Australians.
In the days before the battle, radio signals indicated the presence of strong Viet Cong forces within five kilometres of the base but patrols found nothing.
On the night of August 16 and 17, Nui Dat came under fire from mortars and recoilless rifles.
The defenders stood to, expecting the barrage to be followed by an assault.
None came. Searches of the area the next day located some of the sites from which mortars had been fired, but nothing else.
Patrols continued the following day, D Company left the base at 11.15am bound for the Long Tan rubber plantation.
As they departed Nui Dat, they heard a concert by sounds of a concert by Little Pattie, the Australian entertainer.
They entered the Long Tan plantation at 3.15pm. Less than an hour later, the Viet Cong attacked in force, putting the Australians under mortar, machine gun and small arms fire. Only the quick response of a New Zealand artillery battery to desperate calls for support saved D Company.