Local gets high military honour
GOVERNOR-GENERAL Quentin Bryce wasn't there, but 30 Army Reserve soldiers turned up – and so did Australia's second only military hero to receive the Star of Gallantry, one down from the Victoria Cross.
Hervey Bay's retired Lt Col Harry Smith popped into Maryborough's Military Museum to show his fans his recently mailed Star of Gallantry, retrospectively awarded two years ago this week for his Long Tan battle leadership in 1966.
Yesterday was Vietnam Veterans Day and also Long Tan Day.
The day before, 60 came to meet Harry and see his medal, which was supposed to have been presented by Ms Bryce in Canberra.
But at the last moment the defence department stymied that arrangement because they wouldn't let Harry's Long Tan soldiers come along to the ceremony to receive their own retrospectively awarded unit citations.
“We wanted to give Harry a morning tea of congratulations,” said museum director John Meyers yesterday. It was a terrific occasion.
“Jock Rutherford MM and Long Tan veteran Buddy Lea also attended. Harry made use of a 2.4m x 1.8m of the Vietnam area of operations that is mounted on the wall to show the visitors the movements of his troops on that fateful day – August 18, 1966. Afterwards, both he and Buddy fielded questions from the visiting soldiers.”
Harry presented his Star of Gallantry medal to the museum for safekeeping until such time that the award is made by the G-G.
“We are very fortunate to have the original medals for three of the four soldiers who received Imperial awards for the Battle of Long Tan,” John Meyers said. “They are Harry, Bob Buick MM and Ron Eglinton MM and after Harry is officially presented he will also loan us his medal for display.”