Kiwi Vietnam veterans never received formal recognition

It's been discovered 32 Vietnam veterans who earned military awards during the conflict never had them formally presented.

The emblems recognised bravery and service. Now ex-servicemen believe the administrative oversight should be rectified.

"We actually had fifteen minutes to live that afternoon because the enemy was slowly surrounding us," Vietnam veteran Willie Walker says.

He can still clearly recall the Battle of Long Tan in 1966 where, as a forward artillery observer, he helped save surrounded soldiers under attack. 

"We had to bring down artillery fire to hold the enemy back," he adds.

For his courage he earned a gallantry award - known as a mention in dispatches.

But there was no ceremony for Mr Walker, he simply collected his emblem from an army supply store. 

"It probably would be good to get some form of formal recognition," he says.

"I think it is an oversight that needs to be rectified," another Vietnam veteran Bob Davies says.

He is leading the campaign to see men like Mr Walker officially presented their awards as current day solders are.  

He has so far tracked down 27 living recipients or next of kin who are all very keen to see the awards formally acknowledged. 

"Ideally I would like to seem presented at government house," he says.

The Defence Force is considering the request saying it will look positively on the idea.

As for Mr Walker he's still happy the Viet Cong didn't catch him that day 50-years-ago. 

"If it wasn't really for the cavalry arriving then we would have been surrounded and Willie would not be here," he says.


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