Vietnam vet wants to go back on 50th anniversary of battle

HARRY Smith has never been back to the country where he saw many young soldiers injured and killed during the Battle of Long Tan.

But with the 50th anniversary of the battle approaching, retired Lieutenant Colonel Smith now wants to return to Vietnam for the first time.

When he came home from the Vietnam War, he "completely switched off from the war".

"I felt very sad about what had happened in Vietnam," the Long Tan commander said.

The 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan will be commemorated in 2016 and Mr Smith believes the Federal Government should take the survivors back to the scene of combat for the occasion, as well the next of kin of those killed in the battle.

Mr Smith said that for a long time he had no desire to return to Vietnam.

But he had heard from many other former soldiers who had decided to return and their experiences had been encouraging.

"It will be good for me to go back for the event and look at where we fought and where we were," Mr Smith said.

"I have heard it's changed a lot."

Some had spoken to former enemy soldiers and that had been a surprisingly positive experience, Mr Smith said.

Mr Smith said he was looking forward in particular to visiting the Long Tan Cross Memorial.

He sad he personally felt no anger towards the former enemy soldiers.

"Not towards individual soldiers," he said.

"They did what they had to do and we did what we were told to do."

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