Recognition at last

By Benalla Ensign

Benalla’s veterans who served at the Battle of Coral-Balmoral, the longest and most costly conflict of the Vietnam War, have finally been recognised.

State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said Sunday marked the beginning of the 50th anniversary of the battle, which was fought over 26 days from May 13 to June 6, 1968.

Ms Ryan told Parliament this week about the involvement of local veterans in the conflict.

‘‘The battle of Coral-Balmoral began on May 12, 1968, when two Australian battalions were attacked by North Vietnamese forces withdrawing from Saigon,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘The loss of human life was heavy on both sides, with 25 Australians killed during the battle and 99 wounded,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘For decades now veterans have lobbied for recognition of their efforts at that battle, including Benalla veterans Colin Bermingham and Ray Slater and Seymour’s Ian Warren.

‘‘It is just wonderful to see the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal finally recommend that they be awarded a Unit Citation for Gallantry.

‘‘Ray and his wife June campaigned for his unit’s recognition. He is sadly no longer with us, but he would have been thrilled with the tribunal’s decision.’’

Ms Ryan said Mr Bermingham was one of a number of young Australian soldiers who served at that battle.

‘‘During Colin’s deployment in Vietnam he was one of many men who was drenched with Agent Orange, and as a result he has battled a number of illnesses since, including prostate cancer,” Ms Ryan said.

‘‘Ian was a bombardier at the battle and he has been in Canberra this week to commemorate the 50th anniversary.

‘‘Due recognition has been a long time in coming to these men.’’