Five hundred Australian troops pulled out of South Vietnam on Thursday. It was the first?
Five hundred Australian troops pulled out of South Vietnam on Thursday. It was the first phase of the program to withdraw all Australian combat forces from South Vietnam by the end of the year. Officers and men of the Third Infantry Battalion based at Nui Dat, south-east of Saigon, were flown by helicopter to the nearby port of Vung Tau to join the troops carrier Sydney for the journey home.
News of the pullout was kept secret for security reasons.
The embargo was not lifted until 24 hours after the troops were aboard the ship. The transfer from Nui Dat was accomplished without a hitch.
Last August, Australian Prime Minister William McMahon, announced that the Government had decided to withdraw all its forces from Vietnam and they would be home by Christmas.
He said withdrawal would be staggered over three months to give the South Vietnamese forces time to adjust. Australia would continue to provide military and civilian aid to Saigon. The rundown in the Australian commitment to Vietnam, which began in 1965, coincides with the withdrawals by Saigon's other allies.
The Third Infantry Battalion is due back at its headquarters, in South Australia, on Friday week (October 15). In its eight months in Vietnam, four members of the Battalion were killed and 29 wounded.