5RAR Tiger Logo 5RAR on Operations

2nd Lt Mick 'Deaky' von Berg atop the Long Hai's

"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 sightings.
     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