VIETNAM 1965-66

The Battalion based at Holsworthy was warned in March 1965 for service in South Vietnam and after a rapid preparation departed by charter aircraft and HMAS SYDNEY.

After concentration at the Bien Hoa air base in early June 1965, the Battalion was placed under command of the 173rd US Airborne Brigade (Separate) and formed part of the perimeter for the defence of the base. This period saw intensive training with helicopters and armoured personnel carriers (APC) and patrolling with the US troops.

On the 25/26 June the Battalion carried out the first of many successful operations against the Viet Cong (VC) and afterwards in conjunction with the remainder of the Brigade conducted operations in such well-known areas as ‘War Zone D’, ‘Ben Cat’, ‘The Iron Triangle’ and other notorious VC areas.

New Year’s Day 1966 saw the Battalion open Operation Marauder in the ‘Plain of Reeds’ then from there to Operation Crimp where it was the first unit to air assault into the ‘Ho Bo Woods’. It was later found that the Battalion had in fact landed on the top of the underground HQ of the VC Military Region 4. Many weapons and some 100,000 pages of documents were found in the tunnel complex which was the deepest and most elaborate found up to that time.

Until April 1966 operations continued and included two with the US 1st Infantry Division, better known as the ‘Big Red One’.

In June 1966 1 RAR returned to Australia by air and was given a tremendous ticker-tape welcome as they marched through the streets of Sydney.

The result of the year’s operations during the tour was 128 VC KIA plus a large number of WIA and PW with its own casualties being 32 KIA and 130 WIA. Decorations for the period were two DSOs, nine MMs and seven MIDs. The 1RAR Group was awarded the US Army, Meritorious Unit Commendation and the Republic of South Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.

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