Vietnam Medal.

For some years people have campaigned for a change in the criteria of length of service in the country for the award of the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, a foreign award. The criteria set by the then Government of the Republic of Vietnam is six months of service in country unless KIA, RTA as a result of injuries while on operations, (including mental health issues due to operations), or being a POW and subsequently released. Note that RTA of a service person in less than 181 days for injuries or mental health issues not caused by operations does not meet the criteria.

In 2013 an Inquiry was held by the Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal (DHAAT) into the above matter as a result of requests for change, especially change to the period of service, ie a reduction of the 181 days to a lower period. At the time the policy of the VVAA was to oppose such a change and a submission was made to the DHAAT on that basis. The outcome of the inquiry was that the Tribunal found that the Australian government had no legal power to change the time criteria set by the government of the Republic of Vietnam.

As a result of further claims, a second DHAAT inquiry was held in 2015 with a focus on reducing the 181-day period and its conditions. Amongst other matters, some submissions queried the decision by the Government to set 181 days as the period, rather than six months as set by the Vietnamese Government – suggestions as low as two months were made. The period of 181 days and other criteria were upheld and the Tribunal again noted, on legal advice, that the Australian Government had no legal power to alter the criteria set by the Vietnamese Government.

The Defence Honours and Awards website specifically notes that, for this foreign award, there have been two DHAAT inquiries into this matter and their outcomes. The website also notes that the Australian government has “no intention for a further review”.

What was not addressed was that there were members of the permanent forces whose tours of duty were cut short of 181 days, eg, due to the withdrawal of Australian forces from the Republic of Vietnam, however, the position of the Australian Government is quite clear.



A close call in a Hercules.

By Phil Frawley

After about two years flying as a co-pilot on the venerable C-130 Hercules, I was being groomed for captaincy and as such I was doing a lot of flying with the squadron executives to ensure that I was capable of being a captain. On this particular mission I was programmed to fly with the CO of the squadron. This CO was a particularly hard man who was obsessed with being ahead of schedule at every opportunity and drove his crews harshly to achieve his aims.

The mission itself was a comparatively easy one, known as an East Coast Courier. The task was simply to fly from Richmond to Amberley and then onto Townsville and return the same way. At each stopover we would pick up general cargo and passengers as required by the RAAF Air Movements organisation, who determined what cargo and passengers needed to be transported to the various bases.

On taxiing into Amberley, the flight engineer asked me for the required fuel load to continue on to Townsville and as I gave him the necessary upload, I was countermanded by the CO who would not let me take on any fuel. The CO was trying, as usual, to get well ahead of schedule and I perceived that he was testing my ability to fly the aircraft to its maximum economical fuel burn. The problem was that the weather in Townsville was not very good.

At this time different weather forecasts for airfields were issued for military and civilian aircraft. Additionally military aircraft had access to a better landing approach guidance capability than was available to civilian airlines. This was called a Ground Controlled Approach or GCA. The GCA used specially trained Air Traffic Controllers using a very accurate radar system that could inform you of your exact tracking and glidepath down to 200 feet above the runway. To that end, the military forecast on this day for Townsville did not require military aircraft to carry any holding fuel for the bad weather affecting Townsville, but the civilian forecast did. Holding fuel requirements are detailed in airfield forecasts and may require either 30 or 60 minutes holding fuel to allow for possible weather breaks which would ensure a successful approach and landing.

At Amberley, we arrived with enough fuel to continue to Townsville on a fine weather day but not enough for any bad weather eventuality. I was concerned about the civilian forecast and told the CO that we would be wise to take on more fuel, but he refused to allow it. It is worthwhile explaining that the squadron had just recently transitioned to a newer model Hercules (H) which was more powerful and as such consumed more fuel and so the corporate knowledge of its performance was not fully understood by the older aircrew in the squadron who had operated the previous model (A) for many years. Most of the younger aircrew, including myself, were very aware of the implications of how the new aircraft performed due to the extensive training that we had been given.

So it was that we pressed on to Townsville. As we entered the cruise, the navigator received weather updates for Townsville that indicated deteriorating conditions requiring at least 60 minutes holding, but these were the civilian forecasts. I again expressed my deep concerns to the CO who quizzed me about my options, and I said that the flight leg was not long enough to conserve enough fuel to satisfy the Townsville forecast and that we should divert to Rockhampton to take on more fuel. Again, he refused. It then came to light that because we were a military aircraft and the GCA was available to us we didn’t need to have the extra holding fuel and we were perfectly legal.

I explained that even though that was technically correct, the conditions at Townsville were worsening by the minute and we might be caught out with nowhere to go.

Now let me explain the GCA at Townsville. Normally a GCA would pick you up from approach radar directly to around 10 miles but at Townsville the leg to come to this point is about 30 miles extra and a missed approach and follow on approach could be a distance of around 60 miles; a long way. This is due to the terrain in and around Townsville.

At the descent point for approach to Townsville, about 80 miles out, Air Traffic Control declared that, due to heavy rain and very low cloud, Townsville airfield was closed to all operations. We had enough fuel for a visual approach and no more. I don’t know if the sudden gravity of the situation hit the CO, but he didn’t show it. I flew the GCA and I admit I didn’t do a very good job because I was so scared. When we got to the absolute minimum descent altitude for the approach, we could not see a thing. At this point the CO took control of the aircraft and descended to approximately 100 feet above the ground. I looked out of the chin window, and I could see the houses below us that were very close and I thought that we were actually going to crash. A moment or two later the flight engineer yelled that he could see the runway off to our right and he guided the CO to the spot.

The first 1000 feet of the runway was visible, and we landed into a wall of water just beyond. We found it difficult to taxi off the runway with the poor visibility and as we made it onto the taxiway the outboard engine fuel tank empty lights illuminated. On board the aircraft was some dangerous cargo that had to be offloaded in a special area, so we taxied to that area where the inboard engine tank empty lights illuminated just prior to shut down. Following the offload of the dangerous cargo, the CO elected to start the aircraft and taxi it to the Air Movements ramp to prepare for the return leg. The flight engineer attempted to start the auxiliary power unit but there wasn’t enough fuel to even start this unit and the aircraft had to be refuelled before it could be moved. The CO did not acknowledge the danger that he had placed his crew and his passengers in, and never spoke of it at any time.

I spoke to the crew, away from the CO, and they realised the danger and expressed their concern at what had happened. They also agreed with my assessment of the situation as it unfolded way back at Amberley, although they admitted that, at the time, they believed the CO knew more about the information than any of us. I went on to gain my captaincy in what was then record time for the squadron, not because of my ability but because many pilots were leaving the RAAF for the airlines. I really enjoyed my time flying the Hercules and I look back on it with a lot of pride.



Latest official suicide-figures.

A report released recently into the rate of suicide among current and former serving Australian Defence Force personnel reaffirms that suicide prevention must be a matter of national priority. The report, Serving and ex‑serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985 suicide monitoring: 1997 to 2020, prepared by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, is the fifth annual suicide monitoring report commissioned by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Matt Keogh says the death of any current or former serving ADF member is a tragedy felt deeply by all in the Defence and veteran communities. “Sadly, this latest report found that 1,600 ADF members and veterans with service after 1985 died by suicide between 1997 and 2020,” he said.

“This reveals an additional 327 deaths by suicide since last year’s report, largely due to an expanded study period, which now includes an additional five years of data and does not reflect an increased rate of suicide overall.”

The 2022 report found the most common risk factors for permanent, reserve, and ex-serving ADF members who died by suicide were experiencing a mood affective disorder, such as depression, and problems in spousal relationships.

For males, suicide ideation was also found to be a risk factor while a personal history of self-harm was found to be more common for women. “A single suicide by a veteran or serving ADF member is one too many, and we are committed to making every possible effort to prevent any further tragedies of this nature”, Minister Keogh said.  “After fighting for a Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide for many years, our government welcomed the Commissioner’s Interim Report in August 2022, responding to each of the 13 recommendations swiftly.

“The research in this report, coupled with the work of the Royal Commission, is critical to deepening our understanding of the sad reality of suicidal ideation in our veteran community, enabling us to undertake the necessary reform to save lives.”

Anyone who has completed a single day of service in the ADF can access a comprehensive range of services to support their mental health and wellbeing. This support is needs-based and uncapped. Immediate financial assistance is also available to veterans submitting mental health claims, and, additionally, veterans can access health treatment for 20 commonly claimed physical conditions while their mental health claim is being considered.

Free and confidential mental health support for veterans and families is available through Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling service, and can be accessed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling 1800 011 046.

Defence personnel can contact their local health centre, the All-Hours Support Line on 1800 628 036 or the Defence Member and Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.

You can help by contacting a mate and checking to ensure they’re ok – do it today.

Access to the Defence, Veterans’ and Families Acute Support Package

Legislation was passed in Parliament late last year to enable the Defence, Veterans’ and Families’ Acute Support Package. This package expands the existing Family Support Package to provide more practical services and flexibility for families.

Requirements for veterans to have warlike service or be participating in rehabilitation have been removed. Eligibility has been expanded to working age families of veterans eligible for certain payments under all three Acts, who are at risk of or are in crisis. Working age widowed partners of veterans whose death was related to service, including suicide, under all three Acts are now also eligible. This eligibility expansion allows veteran families to access important support when they need it most.

Support for widowed partners will be improved by allowing them to access support for two years from the date of acceptance into the program, rather than the date of death of the veteran.

Financial limits for each service category of childcare, counselling and household services will be replaced with an overall yearly cap, providing families with greater flexibility. Additionally, a range of new practical supports will be available to help families build independence and resilience including but not limited to financial literacy, mental health first aid, academic and wellbeing support for children, resilience development and counselling.

Services that are available are:

  • child care (including home based care, centre based care, family day care, occasional care and outside school hours care)
  • counselling for adults and children (including clinical, financial and other life skills counselling where required)
  • household assistance (including meal delivery and preparation, cleaning, and household and garden maintenance)
  • services to build capacity (including financial literacy, relationship skills, cooking lessons and mental health first aid)
  • wellbeing, academic and extra-curricular support for children (including tutoring, music lessons and sporting activities)
  • transport for children to attend school and services provided through the program if required.

Access to the Defence, Veterans’ and Families’ Acute Support Package commenced 14 October 2022.

There is further information HERE.



Suez Crisis 1956

In 1956, an international crisis over control of the Suez Canal put Britain and France into direct conflict with President Nasser of Egypt, a proud Arab nationalist determined to stand up to foreign powers meddling in Egyptian affairs.

First Carrier Battle in History. Battle of the Coral Sea.

First Carrier Battle in History. Battle of the Coral Sea. – YouTube

The Battle of Coral Sea was the first ever carrier-versus-carrier battle in the history of the world and would go on to prove the importance of such vessels for decades to come. Japan was set on a land invasion of Australia and needed the required staging outposts to make the invasion a success.

One of the first steps in the process was to severe the communication ties between Australia and the United States. This would involve the capture of Port Moresby, New Guinea. In April of 1942, The Japanese put Operation MO into action and landed amphibious forces at Tulagi in the Solomon island chain. The beachhead allowed for supplies and manpower to establish a foothold and provided a base of operations for Japanese reconnaissance seaplanes.

A main invasion force was set up to take Port Moresby itself. This would originate from Rabaul in New Britain and bring with it cover from two large aircraft carriers – the IJN Shokaku and the IJN Zuikaku. It was understood that the main invasion force would garner much of the attention of Allied spotters in the sky so the basic idea was for the carriers to double back and assault any Allied ship actions from the rear.

However, Allied codebreakers were hard at work deciphering the intercepted Japanese communications. Though not a perfect science, the garnered information usually allowed the Americans to make a good guess as to the expected Japanese actions of the day. Task Force 17 was sent into action and, with it, the American carriers USS Lexington and USS Yorktown.

Bad weather across May 5th and May 6th allowed neither attacking force to spot one another. After searches resumed on the 7th, misinformation led to some limited engagements for both sides, wrongly identifying aircraft carriers that were, in fact, other ship classes. The lesser Japanese carrier IJN Shoho – able to field just 21 aircraft – fell victim to the Americans by way of thirteen direct bomb hits, several torpedoes and a crashing SBD Dauntless (with the loss of its two-man crew). In turn, the American oiler Neosho was lost by way of a Japanese strike in actions prior.

On May 8th, the two opposing carrier groups spotted one another in full, each launching as many aircraft as they could muster. Shokaku was nailed twice by American dive-bombers of USS Yorktown and completely limiting her aircraft-launch capacity for the duration of the battle. Yorktown was spotted by a 69-strong Japanese aerial force and hit with a bomb, damaging her but not taking her out of the fight.

USS Lexington was less fortunate. Japanese torpedo bombers zeroed in on her and hit her twice. Dive-bombers swooped in and added an additional two direct hits upon her structure, jamming her elevators in the raised position. However, her flight deck had not sustained any damage and she – more or less – remained operationally potent. The direct hits did cause internal gas leaks that eventually ignited, generating fires that proved beyond control for the damage crews. For all intents and purposes, the USS Lexington was a loss. Much of her crew were rescued and relocated to waiting for USN ships of the Task Force and her remaining aircraft found new homes on the damaged – but still functional – USS Yorktown. Lexington was abandoned, scuttled and eventually sunk by a torpedo.

The Battle of Coral Sea, though technically a victory for Japan, was nonetheless a major setback to its plans for complete Pacific dominance. The invasion of Midway Island was the next pressing action for the war machine but its two large carriers were now tied up in actions at Coral Sea action for the moment – proving decisive for the Battle of Midway to come.

While the USS Lexington proved a major Allied casualty, the Australian mainland was saved from invasion and any future prospect of similar Japanese actions in the area was nullified.


New ISRAELI Powerful Laser System Is Ready For Action

Protecting the skies has always been a main task of the Israel Defence Forces, which is why they created a multi-layered air and missile defence. The country also has many modern artillery systems, and missiles of various ranges, including intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads anywhere in the world. Today we have prepared for you a selection of the 10 best artillery systems, missiles and air defence systems in service with the Israel Defence Forces.

Reflecting on “who” can send us to war

WHO decides if and when Australia goes to war?

It’s a complex question made even more so by an increased US military presence in Darwin, with rotating Marine Corps deployments.

The prospect of jointly manned, leased submarines must also be vexing senior Canberra defence minds, almost as much as triumphal iconography and inappropriate unit T-shirts.

It’s not a military decision, but in a democracy senior service officers should be consulted during any process to commit troops to combat.

In September 1939 it was Prime Minister Robert Menzies’ melancholy duty to announce unilaterally that as a consequence of Britain declaring war against Germany, a state of war also existed between Australia and Germany.

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