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Community & Business

21 July, 2021

Local war veteran receives citation for Vietnam service

A LOCAL man who fought in the Fire Support Battle of Coral and Balmoral has been formally acknowledged for his services and undisputed gallantry more than 50 years after he returned home from Vietnam.

By Michael Warren

Vietnam veteran John Williams displays the citation above his medals.

A LOCAL man who fought in the Fire Support Battle of Coral and Balmoral has been formally acknowledged for his services and undisputed gallantry more than 50 years after he returned home from Vietnam. 

John Williams, who moved to Mareeba more than 16 years ago recently received a citation – a green badge with a star in the middle – which signifies it was specifically earnt by Mr Williams. 

Mr Williams now intends to proudly wear the citation above his medals on important remembrance days, like Anzac Day. A 50th anniversary commemoration brochure publicly recounted the battle. 

It mentioned that in May 1968 the first Australian task force deployed two battalions to an area 20kms north of Bien Haa city in Vietnam to intercept and disrupt enemy forces withdrawing from the capital, Saigon and the Bien Haa-Long Binh base complex. 

Several fire support bases (FSB) were established to provide defended firing points with artillery and mortars which would cover foot patrols to be sent out by the battalions (1RAR and 3RAR). One of these FSB’s was dubbed “Coral” which was situated 7kms north of the town, Tan Uyen. 

“I’m very proud to receive this, I suppose it gives me closure, for a lack of a better word,” a reflective Mr Williams told The Express. 

“It will hopefully put some ghosts to rest for me.” 

Mr Williams was just 19 years of age when he left for Vietnam in 1967. One particular memory remains firmly entrenched in his mind years after arriving back onto home soil following his Vietnam tour duties. 

“I remember flying back into Sydney airport in November 1968 at around 3am,” Mr Williams recalled. 

“We did that so we didn’t encounter any angry demonstrators or demonstrations at the airport. At the time there were people against the war and the Australians participating in it. 

“Looking back, it was a very emotional time; it still is, it never leaves you, I try not to think about my time in Vietnam, apart from on ANZAC Day, but receiving this is a real honour and something I’ll treasure.”


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