From 1962 to 1972, the Australian Army Training Team, Vietnam (the AATTV) fought shoulder-to-shoulder with the Vietnamese army and became the most decorated unit of the Vietnam War. These are the brave Australian soldiers that made up that unit.
Ian Gollings was deployed with the first contingent of advisers arriving in Vietnam in 1962. Ian worked on the Tactics Committee at Hiep Khan where he trained recruits of the Civil Guard. After his first tour Ian returned to Australia resuming his post with the Special Air Service.
Graham Snook was in the army for 9 years prior to joining the AATTV. He was deployed in 1967 to a Cavalry unit on the outskirts of Hue and was called in to help repell the infamous Tet Offensive on the ancient capital. The seige lasted for 1 month before the South Vietnamese and American forces retook the city. Graham continues to undergo psychiatric counselling for PTSD issues he suffered as a result of his experience.
Don McDowell was an intelligence officer and was deployed to Vietnam in 1964 to work with the Covert Action Branch of the CIA. Stationed at the Psychological Warfare Centre in Vung Tau, Don supervised civil action projects that aimed to win the hearts and minds of the local people, while gathering intelligence on the Viet Cong infrastructure. After his tour Don became the head of Strategic Intelligence for the Army in Vietnam.
David Savage was a member of the Special Air Service when he was recruited into the AATTV. Deployed to Vietnam in 1968 he joined a Special Forces Group operating out of Pleiku. In August he was sent to reinforce the remote camp of Duc Lap which was under siege from NVA forces. The battle ensued for three days before a decisive victory was achieved by the South Vietnamese forces. Later in life David wrote an account of his experience in a book entitled 'Through the Wire'.
Bevan Stokes was a veteran of the Korean war when he was selected for the training team. Deployed in 1963, Bevan instructed members of the South Vietnamese Civil Guard before joining the 1st Special Forces Group patrolling in the notorious A Shau valley. In 1964, Bevan joined Barry Peterson in the Central Highlands where he trained an indigenous guerrilla force known as the Tiger Men.
Kerry Gallagher joined the AATTV in 1971 and was deployed to the Jungle Warfare Training Centre in Nui Dat. Kerry ran Night Operation Training Teams before working in AATTV HQ based in Saigon. In October 2012 Kerry became the President of the AATTV Association.
A veteran of the Korean war and the Malayan emergency, Keith Payne was deployed to Vietnam in 1969. In May, Keith was commanding a Mobile Strike Force battalion when it came under attack by NVA forces. Injured in the attack, Keith ordered his troops to fall back to a secure location and regroup. In the evening Keith set off through enemy held territory to retrieve 40 of his wounded soldiers before leading his party back to base. Keith received a Victoria Cross for his gallantry and is now the only living member of the AATTV to have received the military's highest decoration. He's pictured above displaying his military medals including the Victoria Cross.
John White joined the AATTV in 1968 and became a platoon commander of an Indigenous Special Forces unit. In May, John and his team were sent to reinforce Ngok Tavak, an isolated camp that had come under attack from NVA forces. The battle was a resounding success for the NVA claiming the lives of 31 American and Vietnamese soldiers and forcing an evacuation of the camp. John was later awarded a 'Mention in Dispatches' for showing leadership under fire.
Bruce Davies did 3 tours of Vietnam with both the AATTV and the 1st Royal Australian Regiment. First deployed in 1967, Bruce served with ARVN Infantry and Special Forces units in some of the most hostile regions of the country. Bruce earned a mention in Dispatches in 1970 and a Commendation for Distinguished Service in Vietnam in the End of War List. He was appointed a Member of the British Empire for his service and has since written three books about the war; 'The Men Who Persevered', 'Vietnam' and 'The Battle at Ngok Tavak'.
Ian Teague joined the AATTV in 1965 and was posted to a Covert Action Branch of the CIA. Ian helped pioneer a the concept of People's Action Teams - small units of local people tasked to protect their own village and locate enemy infiltrators. In later years the Team's first Commanding Officer, Colonel Ted Serong, suggested Ian's efforts were the most successful single element in the conduct of the Vietnam War.
Bob Haggerty was deployed with the first contingent of advisers arriving in Vietnam in 1962. Bob instructed members of the South Vietnamese National Guard before advising an armoured regiment. In 1966 Bob returned to Vietnam and joined the 1st Australian Taskforce for a second tour.
Adrian Clunies-Ross was deployed with the first contingent of advisers arriving in Vietnam in 1962. As a senior adviser at the Dong Da National Training Centre, Adrian was responsible for the overall coordination of new troops. After his first deployment Adrian returned to Vietnam becoming the 2IC of 8 Royal Australian Regiment in Phuoc Tuy.