Veteran Day: a tale of bravery
FOR Veteran Day, Judy Dixon shared the story of how her late brother was awarded a medal for his bravery during the Long Tan battle.
The Kingaroy RSL hosted the Veteran Day service on Sunday, where guest speaker Judy Dixon spoke about her late brother Barry Magnuessen.
Mrs Dixon said prior to being conscripted her brother had badly broken his leg during a hurdling event.
"So it was a big blow when that marble came out with his birth date on it and he was conscripted into the army," she said.
"He could not do a lot of the training because of the pin in his leg which put him in a lot of pain, so he spent quite some time in hospital.
" My mother and father put in an objection to authorities in the army to take him out. But, it was rejected and so he went off to Vietnam."
Due to ongoing riots surrounding the conscriptions, Mrs Dixon said they had to fly them off at midnight to cause the least amount of fuss as possible.
Mrs Dixon went on to describe the events of that fateful day to the crowd at the service.
"In the late afternoon on August 18, 1966 in South Vietnam in an area no bigger than two football fields they stumbled on 2500 hardened Vietcong and North Vietnam soldiers and were suddenly fighting for their lives," she said.
"The general public just cannot comprehend what it was like for those young men, especially the conscripts. The battle raged for three and a half hours in pouring rain, amid mud and shattered trees of the rubber plantation called Long Tan.
"Major Harry Smith and his dispersed company of the 108 young and mostly inexperienced soldiers were fighting for their lives holding off an overwhelming enemy force of 2500 battle hardened Vietnamese soldiers.
"With their ammo running out, their casualties mounting, and the enemy massing for a final assualt each man I am sure was wondering whether they would get out of this battle alive."
Mrs Dixon said after losing too many of his mates early on in the battle, Barry had to take charge.
"He had to take charge when numbers were few," she said.
"He picked up one of the men and dragged him to safety right in the heat of fighting. With dead bodies everywhere."
Mrs Dixon said Barry was reported "missing in action believed killed" on August 19, 1966.
"I was told this by the military police when they visited my home," she said.
"It was such great news to learn he had actually be wounded and was alive."
Barry, along with the rest of his unit, came home to an ugly reception from the Australian public.
"As if the war had not been ugly enough," Mrs Dixon said.
"Barry was also burdened with grief. So much so that he visited the graves of his conscripted mates every day."
Mrs Dixon said Barry finally found peace and settled in isolation in Port Augusta, where he married for a second time.
"He was suffering from a severe auto immune disease,' she said.
"Major Harry Smith came to visit him in his dying hours.
"But otherwise he died alone."
Barry passed on October 25, 2015.
"Just one year before he was awarded posthumously a medal for gallantry for his extreme bravery during the Battle of Long Tan," Mrs Dixon said.
"Rest in peace my darling brother.
"Lest we forget."