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Vietnam Veterans Day
American flag at Vietnam Veterans Memorial
U.S. Vietnam Veterans Day
March 29 was proclaimed Vietnam Veterans Day in 2012 by President Obama, 50 years after the U.S. first engaged in military activity in Vietnam. It recognizes March 29, 1973 as the day the last U.S. troops left Vietnam.
In President Obama's proclamation he thanked Vietnam veterans for their years of service:
"Eleven years of combat left their imprint on a generation. Thousands returned home bearing shrapnel and scars; still more were burdened by the invisible wound of post-traumatic stress, of Agent Orange, of memories that would never fade. More than 58,000 laid down their lives in service to our nation. Now and forever, their names are etched in to two faces of black granite a lasting memorial to those who bore conflict's greatest cost."
An account of the battle, published in the Stawell Times News, details the sequence of events.
Just before 4pm, moving through a rubber plantation north of Long Tan, 11th Platoon encountered a small detachment of Viet Cong.
Within minutes, 11th Platoon found itself virtually surrounded and pinned down by intense enemy mortar, machine gun and rifle fire. To make matters worse, the afternoon monsoonal rain came down in torrents, reducing visibility.
Despite a supporting artillery barrage from Nui Dat, 11th Platoon was unable to extricate itself from the position and it seemed like only a matter of time before it might be over-run.
Major Smith commanding D Company, ordered 10th Platoon forward to assist, but heavy fire forced the soldiers to ground and they were unable to reach their comrades.
Smith then ordered 12th Platoon around the side of the action, but it was also attacked, along with Smith's own headquarters.
An attempted air support strike failed due to the rain and low cloud and ammunition was running low. Smith realised his entire company was in imminent danger of annihilation.
The Vietnam War
A Documentary Reader
History, Documents, and Opinions on a Major World Crisis
Vietnam Vet 6" Embroidered Patch