SCONE Grammar School student Lleyton Hails has won a national award in Canberra for his entry in an ‘Honouring Vietnam Veterans’ competition.
The competition encouraged students to investigate the contribution of Australians who served in the Vietnam War and reflect on the importance of commemorating their service sacrifice.
More than 50 entries were recognised, including Lleyton’s film, which won first place in the New England region.
It explored the roles of the Royal Australian Air Force and wartime correspondents during the Vietnam War.
Lleyton said visiting the nation’s capital for the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan was an incredible experience.
“I was lucky enough to represent my school and the federal electorate of New England in Canberra at the Battle of Long Tan Memorial Service [on August 18],” he said.
“My movie footage honouring the RAAF and wartime correspondents’ efforts in Vietnam was chosen as a winning entry, along with 53 other entries by students from around Australia, enabling me to have this incredible trip.
“I was flown to Canberra on Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning we attended Parliament House where I was presented with an award for my efforts.
“We spent the rest of Wednesday visiting lots of Canberra’s tourist and educational spots. On Thursday we arrived at the Australian War Memorial.
“Here we stood alongside Vietnam Vets and took part in the emotional Battle of Long Tan Service. After the service we had the opportunity to meet some of the Vietnam Veterans and talk with them.
“We then spent the rest of the day at the Australian War Memorial; we went to a live theatre experience, had a guided tour and then a gala dinner was held for us in the Great Hall.
“This was my first visit to the Australian War Memorial and I found it fascinating and moving all at the same time. By Friday, I had made some great friends from around Australia.”
The Battle of Long Tan anniversary marked 50 years since 108 men of Delta Company, 6th Royal Australian Regiment, took on and defeated a force of 2500 North Vietnamese Army regulars and Viet Cong fighters.
The battle started at around 4pm when a patrol from D Company came across a small band of enemy soldiers.
None realised that these men were part of a massive Vietnamese force. Within minutes the whole of D Company was under intense fire.
For three hours the battle raged. Relentless and accurate shelling, as well as persistent fire from the re-supplied D Company, inflicted horrendous casualties on the enemy, who finally withdrew as dusk fell.
Australia lost 18 men and 24 were wounded, while it was estimated that more than 600 North Vietnamese died.
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