It Never Goes Away, Does It?

In August of 1966, 108 Australian and New Zealand soldiers fought for their lives against 2,500 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers at a place called the Long Tan rubber plantation. Forty-one years on, an Australian veteran watches a YouTube video, and finds that even though he was not part of the battle, his PTSD-related feelings can return without warning.
This is a two-part page.
Part one is notes from the producers of the video.
Part two is a remembrance from an Australian veteran.

Australian Vietnam veterans battle of Long Tan

On August 18, 1966, Australian troops fought a hard battle against Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers. This photo, taken in 2005, is a view of the rubber plantation where the battle of Long Tan took place. Photo by Tacintop, Wikimedia.org.

Notes from the producers of the “Battle of Long Tan” video.

Late afternoon, August 18, 1966, South Vietnam. For three and a half hours, in the pouring rain, amid the mud and shattered trees of a rubber plantation called Long Tan, Major Harry Smith and his dispersed company of 108 young and mostly inexperienced Australian and New Zealand soldiers are fighting for their lives, holding off an overwhelming enemy force of 2,500 battle-hardened Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers.

With their ammunition running out, their casualties mounting, and the enemy massing for a final assault, each man begins to search for his own answer – and the strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honor, decency, and courage.

The ensuing Battle of Long Tan becomes one of the most savage and decisive engagements in ANZAC history, earning both the United States and South Vietnamese Presidential Unit Citations for gallantry, along with many individual awards. But, sadly, not before 18 Australians and more than 500 enemy are killed.

Heroism, tragedy, and the sacrifice of battle, Long Tan is a grueling and dramatic exploration of war with all its horror, that will rightly take its place alongside war classics such as “Gallipoli,” “Breaker Morant,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Zulu,” and  “Blackhawk Down.”

This documentary, and our upcoming movie, are tributes to the nobility and uncommon valor of these men – many of them conscripts – under fire. It honors their loyalty to their country and to each other, and it brings to light the heroism and unimaginable sacrifice of all military men and women both home and abroad.

Long Tan is the true story of ordinary boys who became extraordinary men.

“The Battle of Long Tan” video was produced by Red Dune Films, an independent motion picture company established by Martin Walsh. The documentary appeared on The History Channel. Learn more about the battle and the video.

Ken Fox reaction after watching the Long Tan video

I downloaded the “Long Tan” video from YouTube, and was watching it yesterday. About 60 percent through the video, I smelled something burning, a really strong smell. It was cordite smoke mixed with rain, and the smell of mud and leaf litter, and possibly wet webbing/clothes and sweat – but the cordite smoke was almost overpowering.

The smell got so strong that I realized I was going into a flashback. I had to stop the movie, and race outside for a smoke and a bit of deep breathing. Fantastic experience, and very unnerving, considering I was second tour and not involved in the Long Tan Battle.

I will try to watch the remainder of the video later. Talk about “Twilight Zone.” This is a great documentary.

A similar experience happened years ago when I watched the movie, “Saving Private Ryan,” as the guys were storming the beach in Normandy – I was screaming (in my mind) to “Spread out!” – “Get into cover!” – “Throw a grenade!” My lady friend at the time looked at me, and asked if I was OK, because she said I was hyperventilating, sweating, and squeezing the arm rests of my seat. I continued to sit through the movie, but nearly had to go out to vomit a number of times.

 

Ken Fox is on an Australian Veterans Affairs pension for PTSD and associated major depressive disorders. 2PL A COY 6 RAR/NZ ((ANZAC)) NUI DAT PHUC TUY STH VIETNAM 1969-1970.