Kiwi veterans awarded with Australian military award for first time ever

An Australian military award for extraordinary gallantry has been handed down to Kiwi Vietnam veterans for the first time ever.

Surviving members of 161 Battery and the families of non-surviving members spent Friday afternoon at Linton Military Camp for a parade.

The Australian Unit Citation for Gallantry has never before been offered to a New Zealand military unit.

The 161 Battery of the Royal New Zealand Artillery fought in battles at Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral in 1968, offering crucial artillery fire to support Australian soldiers in a series of battles in the Vietnam War.

"161 Battery gallantly provided sustained accurate and timely artillery fire for the duration of the battle," it was announced at the ceremony by a speaker.

Fourteen surviving members and two next of kin were at the military camp parade along with Minister of Veterans Ron Mark.

"The fact that they won against such overwhelming odds and secondly, because they performed with such distinction is something of legend actually and it's wonderful they're finally being recognised," said Mark.

For recipients like Rodney Baldwin, it's been a long time coming.

"Last year in May, I was across for the 50th anniversary of this battle in Canberra, when they announced these awards were going to be made, which came as a big surprise, a surprise present to us all," he said.

It was also a proud moment for those there to honour family members who survived the war but have since died.

"I think it's pretty awesome. I think the Australians are doing an incredible thing," said one relative.