SHOULD VIETNAM SOLDIER RICHARD NORDEN BE AWARDED VC?

We wish to advise and acknowledge. the following has been taken from The Australian Newspaper,  Wednesday 22 May 2024

 

55 years ago, ‘On 14 May 1968, 20 year old Richard Norden with 5 Platoon B Coy were positioned about a kilometre forward of Fire Support Base Coral in Binh Duong Province when it was attacked by a large force of North Vietnamese Army Regulars.  His Unit became pinned down by the enemy with two wounded members lying 20 metres away.
According to the proposed VC citation, Norden asked for covering fire and ran to his wounded section commander “across ground that provided him little or no effective cover, under heavy enemy fire”.
“He killed one NVA soldier whilst moving forward, and having expended his ammunition, he recovered that enemy’s automatic weapon which he used against further NVA soldiers” the account says.
“He half-carried, half dragged the wounded section commander” back to his platoon, saving his life.  Norden then advanced to try to retrieve the other wounded Australian, who was the one of the unit’s scouts.
“He was fired upon by an enemy soldiers but pressed forward and reached the scout, killing the enemy soldier who had been using the scout as a shield”.
“Private Norden then determined the scout was dead, and returned to the section, collected grenades and moving forward for the third time cleared the area so the body of the scout could be recovered”.
Norden who killed at least three NVA soldiers in the action showed “complete disregard for his own personal safety” to save a severely wounded Australian and allow the recovery of a body.
Vietnam Veterans’ Association president Max Ball said the Association was concerned that the government’s failure to respond to the Tribunal’s recommendation in the 22 months since it was handed down.
Norden never spoke in detail about the battle and only mentioned it in passing before being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in November 1968.
On 16 August  2023,  Former governor-general Sir Peter Cosgrove says he was “blown away” by the bravery of Private Richard Norden.
Please read the appeal from the Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal sent to Richard Marles 22 months ago.
Also read from DVA the Battle of Fire Support Bases Coral/Balmoral

 

Private Norden enlisted in Australian Army 27 April 1966 was discharged three years later, having completed his three-year period of service. Relevant to this application, he arrived in Vietnam on 5 December 1967, on posting to 1 Australian Reinforcement Unit. On 31 January 1968, he was posted to 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, and on 10 April 1968 was posted to 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR). He left Vietnam on 13 August 1968 after being wounded in action on 5 August 1968.

 

The following email was received on 28 May 2024 from Richard Norden’s former 1RAR, 5 Platoon Commander Chris Forde.

 

I wish to thank you for your excellent article regarding Dick Norden DCM.
I was Dick’s platoon commander in Vietnam. Many of my soldiers displayed exceptional courage during our tour of duty but Dick’s bravery was above and beyond. It was the stuff from which legends are born.
On that particular day, there wasn’t a one in a thousand chance of surviving the deeds that Dick performed. Each of his three sorties were death defying. In fact, as I stated to the Awards Tribunal, if I hadn’t been cut off and was able to have had an influence, I wouldn’t have let him do what he did. It was suicide and there was every chance that I would have been fighting to extricate another body.
We who are left of 5 Platoon still gather annually, as tight a bunch of mates as we were in 1968. The failure of the government to endorse the awarding of the Victoria Cross to our brother in arms profoundly upsets each and every one of us.
That Dick’s deeds are recognised outside our little group is appreciated. It shows respect to a heroic soldier that, I would have thought, the government would have been the first in line to honour.
Thank you from me and, I dare say, all of those from 1RAR who read your article.’

 

The Last Awarded VC
The last VC awarded to an Australian was for Able Seaman Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheean for heroic conduct when HMAS Armidale was sunk by Japanese bombers in the Timor Sea in 1942.  Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison gave the green light for the posthumous  award, overruling his defence minister Linda Reynolds, who rejected a Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal recommendation that Sheean be awarded the VC.

 

This moving painting of Teddy Sheean, painted by Dale Morgan hangs in the Australian War Memorial.

 

 

The Hon. Richard Marles MP is the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Minister for Defence and the Federal Member for Corio.
Last June, Marles vowed to make ADF commanders accountable for war crimes committed by their subordinates, and was considering recommendations on the matter from Chief of the Defence Force Angus Campbell.
“Our government will ensure we make this right” said Marles.
An independent panel in a recently released report, warned the government that the refusal of military leaders to accept responsibility for war crimes in Afghanistan had ‘generated anger and bitter resentment’ amongst serving personnel and veterans.
Brereton Report & Chief of Defence Force Angus Campbell
Since November 2020 Chief of the Defence Force Angus Campbell has come under a fierce backlash from the veterans’ community and political pressure over his initial agreement with a recommendation from the Brereton report to ask the Governor-General to revoke the meritorious unit citation for the Special Operations Task Group.
At that time in 2020, independent senator Jacqui Lambie wanted General Campbell to quit, joining other politicians in warning more veterans will take their own lives in the wake of the Brereton report into alleged war crimes by special forces troops in Afghanistan.
I agree with Lambie –as Chief of Defence, General Campbell should have been the first to take responsibility and resign.
With a salary of about $1 million Alex Campbell is one of the best paid officials in Canberra.

 

 

From the Financial Review, February 2024.

‘General Angus Campbell counts down on his $14,000 watch

The Defence Department can’t, or won’t, say how senior brass have handled lavish gifts given to them as part of their official duties.’
According to Tom McIroy, political correspondent for Financial Review (February 2024) Campbell was given a $14,000 watch by the Sultan of Brunei. Campbell received the lavish timepiece during an official visit to the oil-rich South- East Asian country in August last year.
‘Campbell’s wrist must be seriously weighed down, because he also received a $2500 watch during a visit to the United Arab Emirates a couple of months earlier. Another watch, this time with a value of $2450, is also recorded as having been presented by the UAE’s deputy chief of armed forces.
We (Financial Review) asked Defence whether, as advised by the Australian Public Service Commission, the swag might have been donated to the social club for a raffle prize or put on display somewhere at HQ. The guidelines are meant to provide accountability and root out conflicts of interest. Agency heads are told not to improperly use their status or authority to gain advantage.
Despite having more than a week to respond to straightforward questions about where the watches ended up, the department’s media team were unwilling or unable to explain. No wonder that a 2020 auditor-general’s review of the more than 160-person-strong media unit found it was slow, unresponsive and generally ineffective.
Yet more great use of taxpayer dollars by the department’s army of spin doctors. Time stands still at Canberra’s Russell precinct, long known as the place press questions go to die.
Nearly 24 hours after this story was published, Defence said it was fixing errors in its disclosure logs and confirmed the $14,000 watch was on display at department premises.
Records show Campbell is not the only Defence official walking around with new bling. Chief of Air Force Robert Chipman was given an $850 watch last year by the Jordanian Air Force. His wife received one worth $765 on the same day. She also took home a $210 handbag from the Irish Air Corps.
Former Air Vice Marshal Stephen Meredith received a $529 Navy Seal watch from the UAE as well. Indonesia’s next president, Prabowo Subianto, might be a bit less subtle: he presented Marles with a rifle during a recent visit to Indonesia.
America’s shadowy Central Intelligence Agency showed their love language was gift giving, too. The friendly folk at Langley handed a $900 bottle of Penfolds Grange 2018 vintage to Air Commodore Timothy Churchill and two colleagues, part of so-called “stakeholder engagement”.
With a net worth north of $45 billion, the cost of the extravagance is chump change for the Sultan of Brunei. He gave Prime Minister Anthony Albanese a silver urn, but the present was surrendered, likely banished to a gifts cupboard at the department.
The Sultan also presented $533 gold pens to staff of Governor-General David Hurley, including his official secretary Paul Singer and director of strategic engagement Tim Grainger.
Campbell is due to retire in July 2024
If you would like to read further about our Chief of Defence, General Angus Campbell AO, DSO Please go to
https://www.defence.gov.au/about/who-we-are/leaders/chief-defence-force#:~:text=General%20Angus%20Campbell%20AO%20DSC&text=He%20was%20assigned%

Some interesting comparisons:

International comparisons show just how braid-heavy the ADF has become:
  • For every one of the 219 star-ranked officers in the Australian Defence Force, there are just 260 other officers and enlisted members,
  • For every one of the 863 star-ranked officers in the US military, there are 1,500 other officers and enlisted members,
  • For every one of the 115 star-ranked officers in the UK there are 1,200 other officers and enlisted members.
It’s not just numbers where the Australian military topples over at the top, it’s also on pay:
  • The Australian Chief of Defence Force is paid $1,062,702,
  • The Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff is paid $330,000 AUD
  • The UK Chief of the Defence Staff is paid $530,000 AUD.

Meanwhile – what about Richard Norden and his act of bravery?   The former Vietnam soldiers who brought this appeal to Australia’s attention and Norden’s family deserve your courtesy, acknowledgement and a response? 


Australians voted Labour into parliament Mr Marles – we request your immediate attention.   

Mr Marles – It is very straightforward – Yes or No.
You have had the Tribunal’s recommendation in your office for 22 months.

 

 

Prior to its departure, 1RAR was based at Holsworthy barracks, Sydney. It arrived in Vietnam throughout March-June, 1965. It was deployed to the United States Bien Hoa Air Base in Bien Hoa province. It was the third infantry battalion attached to the US 173rd Airborne Brigade (Paratroopers).
Initially, 1RAR was restricted to security operations defending the airbase. However, in September 1965, the Australian government lifted these restrictions, and 1RAR was able to be fully employed as a manoeuvre battalion. It participated in search and destroy missions, patrolling and security operations. 1RAR’s patrol program reduced enemy activity around the Bien Hoa Airbase to an all-time low.
1RAR  went to Vietnam for a second tour, relieving 7RAR on 9 April 1968. It was based at Nui Dat in Phuoc Tuy province, and was primarily involved in patrols, searches, reconnaissance and security operations.
On 12 May 1RAR was redeployed north of Saigon for Operation Toan Thang (21 April – 7 June). This operation aimed at blocking the communist withdrawal following the 1968 Tet Offensive. 1RAR patrolled the Bien Hoa-Bien Nuong border. On 11 May the battalion arrived at Fire Support Base Coral. The base was attacked twice, firstly on 13 May and again on 16 May. Both attacks were repulsed. On 6 June Coral was closed, and 1RAR returned to Nui Dat.
A follow-up operation, Toan-Thang II (13 June – 18 July 1968), saw the battalion move to the Bien Hoa-Long Khanh border. 1RAR participated from 13 June to 3 July.
The battalion continued to carry out patrolling operations in Phuoc Tuy province for the remainder of its second tour. It was replaced by 5RAR on 15 February 1969. 1RAR departed for Australia the following day, arriving in Sydney on 28 February.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) to which the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment and supporting units were attached, was awarded the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm unit citation for the formation’s service from the 6th of May 1965 to the 31st of May 1966. Though 1RAR was attached to the 173rd Airborne Brigade as the third battalion and served in seven of the Brigade’s operations, due to government policy on the acceptance of foreign awards, the award was not automatically conferred to the Australians.

On the 11th of May 2015, following a three year review by the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal, 1RAR was retrospectively awarded the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm unit citation.

 

Below:  Richard Norden

 

Below:  Richard Norden joined ACT Police in 1970.  He died of injuries sustained in Police Motorcycle accident in Canberra 30 Oct 1970 aged 24 years.

 

LIfe in Vietnam

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIEN HOA PROVINCE, SOUTH VIETNAM. 1968-06. SOLDIERS OF THE 1ST BATTALION, THE ROYAL AUSTRALIAN REGIMENT (1RAR), REMEMBER THEIR MATES IN A FIELD MASS AT THE AUSTRALIAN FIRE SUPPORT BASE (FSB) CORAL. ROMAN CATHOLIC PADRE, FATHER R. G. WIDDISON, OF MOUNT EGERTON, VIC, PERFORMED THE SERVICE IN HONOUR OF THE MEN WHO DIED DURING THREE WEEKS OF FIGHTING AT THE BASE

 

https://www.1rar.asn.au/1-rar

In years to come, Australians will remember Richard Norden’s bravery, but they wont remember Richard Marles nor Angus Campbell.

 

28 July 2024

From ABC News Please go to

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-03-28/nsw-defence-veteran-royal-commission-chief-apology/103643594

On the final day of public hearings at The Royal Commission, Chief of ADF General Angus Campbell issues apologies for ‘deficiencies’ in supporting veterans.

Under questioning from Counsel Assisting, Erin Longbottom KC, he also acknowledged he was accountable for “everything that happens in the defence force and everything that does not happen in the defence force”.
General Angus Campbell was appointed to the role of Chief of ADF some 66 years ago in 2018.
Ms Longbottom put to General Campbell that the royal commission was not the first inquiry to explore issues connected to mental health and suicide prevention within the defence community.
He accepted there were some 22 reports and inquiries that have examined the issue over 16 years.
But he disagreed that Defence waited until 2022 or 2023 to start “in earnest” initiatives to improve the experience of personnel.
Ms Longbottom asked why the newly established mental health and wellbeing branch could not have been set up before last year.
General Campbell said Defence was previously coming from a “disaggregated perspective”.