Hillville resident Rodney O'Regan OAM was recently given what he considers a high honour - being invited to be an official participant in the National Commemorative Service for the 50th Anniversary of Operation Overlord, including the Battle of Long Khanh.
The service was hosted by the Department of Veterans' Affairs and held at the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial in Canberra on Monday, June 7.
Rodney was invited to lay a wreath as the official representative of the 1 Field Squadron, Royal Australian Engineers (1 Fld Sqn) at the ceremony.
Rodney was not involved in the Battle of Long Khanh in Vietnam; he had arrived home in Australia only a week or two before the battle took place.
"I was invited because none of the other colonels or captains could attend for various reasons and because I've got a lot do with with 1 Field Squadron," Rodney said.
"I went down there to represent 1 Field Squadron who were involved in the battle of Long Khanh and Operation Overlord, where they blew up over 50 bunkers in a North Vietnamese regular army training ground in the adjoining province to where the Australians were."
Operation Overlord began on June 5, 1971, when intelligence suggested the North Vietnamese Army were training troops in a buffer zone between the Phuoc Tuy and Long Khanh provinces.
On June 7, Australian troops engaged in heavy combat with the North Vietnamese Army.
"It was a real hell for leather battle," Rodney explained. "We lost a helicopter, and we lost 10 blokes overall."
Operation Overlord ended on June 14, 1971, with the enemy driven from the base areas in Phuoc Tuy.
As for the ceremony, "It as such a privilege," Rodney said about being invited.
"I was given priority parking. I wash ushered to my seat by the DVA, who did such a fantastic job organising such a big function.
"I can't talk too highly of the DVA. They were so polite, they made us so welcome, and they went out of their way and far beyond the duties of their office."
Rodney says the ceremony was huge, with around 600 people attending, including the Australian Governor-General, the Honorable David Hurley.
"Every man and his dog was there. Even Rodney!" he said.