It is with pleasure that I rise tonight to acknowledge the bravery of the 102nd Field Battery, Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery for its collective gallantry and heroic actions that took place on the night of 12 to 13 May 1968 in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The 102nd’s exemplary conduct on that evening against a numerically superior enemy has yet to be formally recognised by the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal, and tonight I would like to formally raise this matter. I have been made aware that a submission for an award of a Unit Citation for Gallantry for the 102nd is currently before the tribunal. I would strongly encourage the tribunal to formally recognise the collective tenacity and bravery of the Australians who held their ground under intense enemy pressure on the first night of fierce fighting at Fire Support Base Coral in South Vietnam.
The members of the 102nd were under strength and unprepared for the fierce attack that evening and were faced with a 1,000-strong North Vietnamese Army unit who were fresh and well equipped and whose objective that night was to secure the six guns of the 102nd. The North Vietnamese Army succeeded in securing only one of the six Australian guns that evening due to the bold and heroic actions of the battery. The members of the battery were engaged in close hand-to-hand combat with the enemy whilst performing their main purpose, which was to provide support to the Australian infantry, all the while under sustained mass infantry attack. To summarise for you today, as many as 220 Australians would have been captured and lives subsequently lost,; six Australian guns would have been lost, mortar and other vital equipment and supplies would have been lost, and the regiment headquarters would have been overrun-truly unthinkable outcomes. Without the 102nd’s brave actions it really could have become a reality of the Vietnam War. The 102nd’s courageous actions were brought to my attention by my Bonner constituent Mr Jurgen Harms of Wynnum, who served in the Vietnam War and was part of the 102nd FB. I thank him for his ongoing efforts in achieving appropriate recognition for this battle. In conclusion, I would like to formerly place my full support behind the 102nd Field Battery, Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery in their submission to be awarded the Unit Citation for Gallantry.