"First Atop the Long Hai Hills"
The Reconnaissance Platoon of the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian
Regiment was the first Australian troops on the summit of Long Hai
Hills in Phuoc Tuy Province, South Vietnam on 21st February, 1967.
This photograph taken by a Canadian war correspondent Daryl Henry,
who was attached to the Platoon for the duration of Operation
Renmark, shows the Platoon Commander 2Lt Michael Deak Baron von Berg
MC (foreground) and Cpl Graeme Leach of 2 Troop, 1 Field
Squadron (who was attached to the platoon for the duration of the
Operation) on the summit after an exhausting eleven hundred feet
ascent through thick jungle made more difficult through enemy
contacts in heavily fortified positions, mines and booby-traps.
One of the roles of the platoon was to conduct
reconnaissance in strength on high ground or other difficult and
time consuming areas which in normal circumstances would need the
deployment of a company. This gave the battalion commander more
flexibility and in Operation Renmark the platoon's role was to clear
and secure the high ground up to the western boundary of the Long
Hai foothills. This area was known to contain several enemy bases
and caches used by both D445 Battalion and C25 Company. The high
ground near the summit also contained observation posts and mortar
positions which could have been used against the battalion operating
in the low lying areas to the east of the hills.
An hour after this photograph was taken, the battalion
suffered its heaviest battle casualties (9 KIA and 31 WIA) in a
single incident where B Company advanced into a Viet Cong minefield.
The platoon remained on the Hills for two days after the battalion's
withdrawal and successfully employed and directed night artillery on
enemy positions and movement through campfires and torchlight
Dr. Robert O'Neill ( Intelligence Officer 5 RAR 66-67) has written
about the 5th Battalion's first tour of duty in South Vietnam and
reports much more about the mine incident in his excellent book
Vietnam Task - Cassell Australia - 1968 - Chapter 15.
The ubiquitous Dr. Tony White, the 5th Battalion's Regimental
Medical Officer (RMO) has also written a detailed article,
which makes for compelling reading covering the mine incident - See:
The Long Hai Hills Incident
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