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Gallantry at Coral and Balmoral recognised

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The Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret’d), has approved the award of the Unit Citation for Gallantry to members of the 1st Australian Task Force (Forward) and associated units deployed to Area of Operations Surfers during the Battles of Coral and Balmoral half a century ago.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester announced the Governor-General’s approval for the award during a service in Canberra on 13 May 2018 marking the 50th anniversary of the Battles of Coral and Balmoral.

Mr Chester formally acknowledged the extraordinary gallantry displayed by all of those who fought in the battles.

‘The Unit Citation for Gallantry is richly deserved,’ he said.

‘In the words of the Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal report – the citation is for “everyone who was there”.

‘All of those who served at Coral and Balmoral earned a proud place in Australia’s wartime history.’

Of all the battles that Australians fought in Vietnam, none lasted longer or were more costly than those at Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral. Twenty-six Australians were killed in three and a half weeks. Almost 100 were wounded. At least 270 Vietnamese were killed, though the true figure will never be known.

So that they could attend the national commemorative event, DVA supported the travel and accommodation for next of kin of the 26 Australian servicemen killed in action.

The report on the Inquiry into Unit Recognition for service at the Battles of Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral can be viewed on the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal website.

DVA received several letters in response to an article on the Battles of Coral and Balmoral published in the last edition of Vetaffairs. The letters noted that not all units involved were mentioned in the text. We apologise for the omission, which has been remedied in the online version of the article. See also Letters to the Editor in this edition.

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