Vic Simon deceased
Worimi Man
Retired Private
6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
Royal Australian Infantry Corps
Australian Army
Vietnam Veteran

Medals and Awards
Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 – Vietnam
Vietnam Medal
Australian Defence Medal
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Badge
Infantry Combat Badge
US Presidential Unit Citation (1968)

I was born in Taree in northern NSW and moved to Sydney when I was just six years old looking for work – we lived in housing commission in Matraville. My family has a very proud family history of serving in Australian military conflicts with my great uncle Private William Simon, who fought on the Western Front in World War I, my dad, Private Toki Simon, who was one of the Rats of Tobruk – he took five bullets before returning to the front line and serving in Papua New Guinea. And then there is my Uncle Private Bob Simon, who was a prisoner of war in Changi. All are a central part of the oral history of the Aboriginal people of northern NSW.  But, I didn’t want to talk to my Uncle because, being prisoner of war, it wouldn’t be a very good thing. I didn’t talk to my father about it either, even after I returned from Vietnam. Took me a long time to talk about it.

I enlisted in the Army when I was 19. I’d been working for a printer, after leaving school, when I saw a recruiting poster. I joined up because my father and uncles had. I served in Vietnam, and fought in the battle of Long Tan, one of the most well-known Australian engagements of the Vietnam War. It was on 19 August 1966 when our company, D Company 6 RAR, was ambushed by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese while we were searching rubber plantations. There were about 2,000 of them and about 105 of us. We were surrounded, but we held them off for about 4 hours, but by then we had almost no ammo left. We thought we were done for until the helicopters came and dropped resupplies. Our own artillery support landed their shells close to us; if they hadn’t we wouldn’t be here. The battle was one of the heaviest conflicts of the Vietnam War and one the few battles in the recorded history of the world to be won against such odds.

We lost 17 killed from D Company. One of those was a good mate of mine, Paul Large. It must’ve been just about the last bullet fired. We’d all stood up, and I wasn’t far from him, when Paul got shot. Each year I lay a poppy for Paul at the RSL. On 28 May 1968, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded the U.S. Presidential Unit Citation to D Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, for our heroic deeds in the Battle of Long Tan. I was wounded myself, a bit later and brought back to recover at Concord Hospital. I got rattled by what people were saying back home; that we’d risked our lives for nothing. I’ve gone through some rough times since because of what happened over there. You can’t understand what goes on in war unless you’ve been there.

After I left the Army I joined Sydney Country Council as an underground cable jointer and worked there for 30 years until I retired. I met my wife Beverley in 1973 and we’ve been married for 45 years. We have three children, our daughter Victoria, and Beverley’s 2 sons, Thomas and Jonathon. My people are Worimi, Beverley’s Dharawal, Dunghutti and Gomileroi. In 1985 they finally recognised us for what we did in Vietnam with a big march through Sydney, people were running out and kissing us and shaking our hands. Every August, Beverley and I go up for the Long Tan Reunion in Queensland. I made a lot of mates in the Army. We might not see each other for a year or two, but then there we are welcoming one other, with open arms.