Many services were conducted throughout Australia and New Zealand this year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, a significant conflict in Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.
The picture below was taken at such a service, conducted in the small Hunter Valley town of Medowie. Arthur Batt, a local Vietnam veteran is reading a poem during that service.
Batt was a member of the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.
In early 1965, the Australian Government agreed to dispatch an infantry battalion to South Vietnam. The leading troops of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR), landed on 3 June in a chartered Qantas aircraft. This was the first use of Qantas charters to move troops into (and out of) South Vietnam, and ‘skippy flights’, as they came to be known, would continue at regular intervals almost until the end of Australia’s commitment to the war. Another significant event occurred on 8 June, when the transport ship (converted aircraft carrier) HMAS Sydney, with destroyer escort HMAS Parramatta and HMAS Duchess, arrived at Vung Tau on the first of what became regular naval logistical support operations.
1RAR, the only infantry battalion deployed to Vietnam that was comprised wholly of regular troops, was deployed in Bien Hoa with the US 173rd Airborne Brigade. It was soon built up to a battalion group with artillery, armoured personnel carriers, army aviation and logistical support units. The battalion group saw some heavy fighting, suffering twenty-three men killed during its one-year tour of duty.
For their involvement, they were awarded the US Army Meritorious Unit Commendation, the citation reads:
By the direction of the Secretary of the Army, the Meritorious Unit Commendation is awarded to the 1st BATTALION, ROYAL AUSTRALIAN REGIMENT GROUP for exceptionally meritorious achievement in the performance of outstanding service:
The 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, distinguished itself in the conduct of military operation in the Republic of Vietnam from 5 May 1965 to 16 May 1966 while attached to the173rd Airborne Brigade(Separate) of the United States Army. As the first ground combat unit in-country, the 173rd Airborne Brigade and its assigned and attached units conducted extensive combat manoeuvres in the Bien Hoa area and in the Viet Cong strongholds of War Zone D and the Iron Triangle during the period 5 May 1965 to 4 May 1967. In every confrontation with the stubborn insurgents, the 173rd Airborne Brigade displayed marked aggressiveness which enabled them to neutralize enemy strongholds and capture thousands of logistical items. In addition to remarkable skill and tenacity in combat, the sky soldiers of the brigade carried on an extensive civic action program characterised by sincere compassion for the suppressed local populace. During each of the brigade's combat operations, the sky soldiers immeasurably aided the allied counterinsurgency effort by winning the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people. The remarkable proficiency and devotion to duty displayed by the members of the 173rd Airborne Brigade are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect distinct credit upon themselves, the Armed Forces of the United States, and the Armed Forces of Australian and New Zealand.
The Unit Citation, as shown below, can be worn with pride by those members of 1RAR.
1RAR was relieved by the First Australian Task Force (1ATF) during May-June 1966. It returned to Australia in June.
After the Medowie memorial service, Batt was photographed and appeared in an online media publication, “News of The Area”. For those of you who have read this article, it refers to Batt having been involved in the Battle of Long Tan, this has been identified as an error on behalf of the reporter, the fact being Batt left Vietnam before this event. This is supported by the below extract from the Vietnam Veterans Nominal Roll, which is available in the public domain.
In the previous photograph, Batt is wearing the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (RVCM).
The RVCM was issued by the Government of the Republic of Vietnam for service in the prescribed area of operations in Vietnam during the period commencing on 31 July 1962 and ending on 28 March 1973 for Australian personnel.
The Australian Government authorised this medal to be awarded to Australian servicemen and women and, like any award, there is a qualifying criteria.
The Australian government maintained the basic qualifying criteria specified by the Republic of Vietnam for allied troops. To be eligible for the medal a person must have completed a minimum period of 181 days, either continuous or aggregated, unless:
- killed on active service (KIA);
- wounded in action i.e. classified as a Battle Casualty and evacuated as a result of those wounds; or
- captured and later released or escaped.
Medical evacuation from the area of operations for any reasons other than wounds received in action does not constitute an exemption from meeting the minimum qualifying period.
Accordingly, for Batt, the evidence is in, namely:
- He returned to Australia, along with his Unit, from Vietnam on 01 Jul 1966;
- He served a total of 173 days in Vietnam; and
- He was not a casualty of that conflict.
In summary, Batt is not entitled to wear the RVCM. Surely, like all others who have served in the defence forces, Batt understands there are rules and regulations, they are there for a reason and they are ‘black and white’.
To conduct yourself with such disrespect to fellow Veterans, aggravated by the fact you did it on such an occasion, namely the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, is quite disgraceful and has earned you a place on ANZMI with your fellow fraudsters and honour thieves.
Kenneth Colin Cullum never saw active service, however he was called up for National Service and trained in artillery. He continued his service to the country and community through various organisations. In 2000, he was awarded the Emergency Services Medal for his service with Queensland State Emergency Service (QLD SES).
Cullum has also held executive positions in ex-Service organisations, his most recent, as Secretary of the National Servicemen’s Association of Queensland, Redlands Branch.
One would think that after many year’s involvement in such organisations, Cullum would be aware of medal protocols, or he simply chose to ignore them, as the following illustrates.
The above photograph was taken at the 2015 Remembrance Day service at Redlands, Queensland.
Cullum is wearing the following medals:
1. Emergency Services Medal – awarded in 2000 for service to the QLD SES.
2. National Medal – entitlement unknown as the medal was never officially awarded.
3. Australian Defence Medal – entitled.
4. Anniversary of National Service Medal – entitled.
5. International Year of the Volunteer Medal – an unofficial commemorative medal and not to be worn with official medals.
The National Medal was established on 14 February 1975 as one of the original elements of the distinctive Australian system of honours and awards. The Medal recognises long and diligent service in organisations that protect life and property at some risk to their members. Many, but not all, eligible groups are uniformed. The Medal is awarded to persons for long service in eligible organisations who fulfil the primary function and meet other criteria. Fifteen year’s eligible service is necessary to qualify for the Medal. Clasps are available for each additional 10-year period.
The Governor-General awards the National Medal. Nominations are made by the chief officer of the nominee’s organisation. The chief officer of each approved organisation also administers the medal for that organisation. The award recognises long service in approved organisations that protect life and property at some risk to their members. Many, but not all, eligible groups are uniformed. Fifteen years’ service is required to qualify. Clasps are available for each additional ten years’ service.
Cullum may very well have qualified for the award of the National Medal, by virtue of his service with the QLD SES, however, until the medal is applied for in the correct manner and approved for issue, then he is not entitled to wear it.
The above shows the result of a search of the Australian Honours and Awards database. Cullum has been awarded the Emergency Services Medal, but not the National Medal.
The United Nations (UN) passed a resolution on December 2000 declaring that 2001 would be the International Year of Volunteers (IYV). This resolution adopted by the General Assembly was endorsed and co-sponsored by 60 countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Malta and The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The colours of the ribbon depict the light blue, being the Internationally recognised colour of the United Nations Medal and the orange, being the colour for the International Year of Volunteer Medal.
In short, this is not an official medal, it is no more than a decorative trinket and is not to be worn with official medals.
Kenneth Colin Cullum, you have had an outstanding life of community service, for which you have been appropriately recognised. However, your actions in respect of your medals has sullied this service, disrespected veterans and, perhaps, even disrespected yourself.
The fact that your actions took place whilst an executive member of an ex-Service organisation compounds your culpability and casts a cloud over those organisations that continually turn a blind eye to such practices. You are now among like-minded colleagues on the ANZMI website.
This is the story of Ronald Frederick Holden.
It details how an individual can convince the Department of Defence, 42 years on, that he had qualifying active service in the Republic of South Vietnam, following an alleged tropical cruise to Vung Tau, for a few days, as a guest of the Commander of HMAS Derwent.
His story has only been published after careful deliberation, examination of current records, enquiries with Honours and Awards, Canberra, the Department of Defence and communicating with Ronald Frederick Holden himself on numerous occasions over the past couple of months.
It is complex, a little long, but we hope that our readers can understand the issues involved and the facts uncovered.
From Holden, we have been given the run around, stalling tactics, false information, and an incredible tall story of a 50 calibre machine gun manning, Australian Army 2nd Lieutenant, officially on deck, and officially on duty, in Vung Tau Harbour, South Vietnam, defending the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ship HMAS Derwent, from enemy attack, whilst she lay at anchor.
Originally, ANZMI received information from concerned former servicemen, who reside in the Cairns area of North Queensland, Australia. Their concern was that a photograph of Holden had appeared on social media wearing Vietnam medals and the Returned from Active Service Badge, when he had no entitlement to do so. (Photo above.)
At the initial stage of our inquiries, we had been given advice from Mr Alex Garlin, President of the Queensland National Serviceman’s Association, (NSA), that Ronald Frederick Holden, who is on the “Nasho Roll” Queensland, as a Vietnam Veteran, was accredited on their records, with Vietnam War service awards.
The below document is the official National Serviceman’s roll, and is dated the 16 November 2016. It is compiled by administrative members of the National Serviceman’s Association, following information they receive from applicants, who have completed application forms, providing their particulars of military service and medals awarded.
In this case, former Australian Army 2nd Lieutenant Ronald Frederick Holden.
Name Holden , Ronald Frederick
Service Number 1736273
Rank 2nd Lieutenant
Date of Birth 20 06 1947
Place of Birth Cairns Qld
Date of Intake 28/1/1970
NS Training 3 T B
Follow Up Training 6 RAR Singapore Platoon Commander
Basic Training Singleton NSW
Next of Kin at time of Service Mr Holden
Operational Service Vietnam
Medals AASM 45-75 / Vietnam Medal / ADM /ANSM / Vietnamese Campaign Medal
On the application form, Holden has notified the National Serviceman’s Association, that he was a 2nd Lieutenant 6 RAR Singapore Platoon Commander. He also claims "Operational Service Vietnam".
In regards to medal entitlement, Holden then detailed in his application that he has been awarded the -;
AASM 1945 – 1975 Vietnam Medal/ ADM/ ANSM/ Vietnamese Campaign Medal. (Should be Vietnam Campaign Medal)
Note.- Vietnam Medal.
Qualifying service for the Vietnam Medal for the relevant period 29 May 1964 to 27 January 1973 includes:
• 28 days in ships or craft on inland waters or off the coast of Vietnam;
• one day or more on the posted strength of a unit or formation on land;
• one operational sortie over Vietnam or Vietnamese waters by air crew on the posted strength of a unit; or
• official visits either continuous or aggregate of 30 days.
Note - Vietnam Campaign Medal is awarded for 181 days or more service in the Republic of South Vietnam.
Following our initial contact with Alex Garlin, he informed us that he had then made inquiries from Holden’s service records and ascertained that Holden was not really a Vietnam Veteran at all, but must have had his name and medals placed on the roll by his staff in error.
Garlin stated that he then adjusted his records accordingly, and removed all reference of Holden’s Vietnam service and medal entitlements. Garlin has now told us however, that Holden is indeed a Vietnam Veteran and served for a short time in Vietnam. He has now re-adjusted his records again ! It is clear there has been communication between Garlin and Holden, following our initial contact.
Interestingly though, when we initially contacted Holden, regarding the particulars he supplied to the National Serviceman's Association, (NSA) he confirmed all the information, but stated that he may not be entitled to the Vietnam Campaign Medal. (For 181 days service in South Vietnam or S.V waters.). He also claimed that they omitted to place on their records the fact that he attended Scheyville Officer Cadet Unit, information that he had also provided.
Ronald Frederick Holden was born on the 20 June, 1947. He completed an Engineering Degree at Queensland University. In 1970, at age 22, Holden was conscripted into the Australian Army under the provisions of the National Service Act. The normal age for conscription was 20 years. Holden was deferred for 2 years due to his studies. He attended 3 Recruit Training Battalion (3RTB) at Singleton, New South Wales. He extended his two year commitment by six months and was discharged on the 27th July, 1972.
During 1970, Holden attended Scheyville, an Officer Training Unit in New South Wales, where he underwent further training. He graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was then posted to 6 Battalion RAR , at Townsville, North Queensland.
In the above photograph Holden is wearing the following medals.
1. Australian Active Service Medal 1945 – 1975. With clasp Vietnam (AASM.) Not entitled
2. Vietnam Logistic and Support Medal. (VLSM.) Not entitled.
3. Australian Service Medal 1945 – 1975 with clasp South East Asia. Entitled.
4. Australian Defence Medal. (ADM.) Entitled.
5. Anniversary of National Service Medal. (NSM) Entitled.
He is also wearing the Returned from Active Service Badge (RASB) above his medal rack. He is not entitled to wear this badge.
The name of Ronald Frederick Holden does not appear, and has never appeared on the Vietnam Nominal Roll, Australian War Memorial, Canberra. This roll has been available for public knowledge since 1998.
We made inquiries with 6 Battalion RAR Association. We were informed that Holden was a 2nd Lieutenant, Platoon Commander in Singapore, during his time with the Battalion. However, he did not serve in an official capacity in Vietnam with 6 Battalion RAR, or any other Infantry Battalion during his time in the Australian Army.
We have been reliably informed that Holden has indicated to others that he served in Vietnam about May, 1972. He has also varied this story and indicated that he served for only 3 days in Vietnam. Even this statement flies in the face of his claim to the Vietnam Campaign Medal, which is awarded after serving a minimum 181 days or more, in South Vietnam.
In fairness, we contacted Holden and invited him to provide us with details of his Vietnam War service, dates, Unit, Commanding Officer etc. A simple request. He told us that he was on holidays in Vietnam at the current time and he could not provide any answers until he arrives home in late December, 2016.
Following a further request, he stated that whilst based in Singapore with 6 Battalion RAR, he volunteered for service in Vung Tau (Vietnam) for a "particular operation". He states that he then went to Vung Tau in May, 1972, from Singapore.
The problem with this “particular operation” in Vietnam, is that the last Battalion of Australian Infantry left Vietnam on the 7 November, 1971. A handful of Australian Army Advisors and Signallers of the Australian Army Assistance Group Vietnam AAAGV, remained in Vietnam until late 1972. A few Infantry personnel also stayed on in Saigon as security for the Australian Embassy
Importantly though, 1 Australian Logistic Support Group Base (1ALSG) at Vung Tau, where Holden claims he went in May, 1972, was vacated and closed in late February - March, 1972. What was left of the Australian Army 1ALSG component had departed. They had boarded HMAS Sydney for home. This was two months before Holden claims he went there on a “particular operation", in May 1972.
FROM DVA WEBSITE. AUSTRALIAN MILITARY INVOLVEMENT IN VIETNAM WAR - TIME FRAME.
5 March: The last units of 1ALSG depart Vung Tau. Australia’s commitment to South Vietnam is now limited to about 150 troops of the AATTV and Australian Army Assistance Group Vietnam (AAAGV).
Holden’s name also does not appear on the Australian Army Assistance Group Vietnam Roll - AAAGV, that remained in Vietnam from 6 March, 1972 until the 18 December, 1972. Also, he was never a member of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam. AATTV
In a follow up email to ANZMI he stated -;
"If DoD (Department of Defence) have stuffed up in awarding me something I am not entitled to, let’s let them explain that to us both. From what you say, I may not be entitled to the Vietnam Campaign Medal and if this is the case they will be able to confirm that. I need the file reference to be able to contact them and I do not have that with me".
Holden was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Australian Army. The Vietnam Roll has been available to the public on line now for almost 20 years. It is accurate. He would know that his name has never appeared on it in all that time. He now says that he MAY NOT be entitled to the Vietnam Campaign Medal (181 days service in Vietnam) and he is now blaming the Department of Defence. He knows that he was never entitled to that award.
Holden must have been concerned about what he had told us, and he then sent another email to ANZMI claiming that -;
"The operation to which I was attached was the withdrawal of an RAE unit by the RAN. I was assigned to HMAS Derwent to provide assistance to the RAN through and under the command of its Captain, Cdr McNaught. My main duty on board was to man one of the 50 cal machine guns whilst we were in the war zone including in Vung Tau harbour and to assist the skipper in any other way that he directed. My service was later certified by Cdr McNaught. I do not have the dates with me but I recall that the operation is on the public record somewhere.
I have not committed my discharge date to memory but it was late July 1972. I have a record of this at home but I do not think that it mentions the above. Many years later someone advocated that I apply for my medal entitlements which I did and I believe that I allowed DoD to determine what my entitlements were, if any. That is how I ended up with what I have".
So here we have a 2nd Lieutenant in the Australian Army - 6 Battalion RAR based in Singapore, seemingly ending up on HMAS Derwent in Vung Tau Harbour, whose main duty was manning a 50 calibre machine gun in May, 1972. Also, the last recorded visit to Vung Tau by HMAS Derwent was 6 - 8 November, 1971. It is also surprisingly apparent that there was no Derwent crew member qualified to man the ships 50 calibre machine gun, so Army 2nd Lieutenant Ron Holden was recruited from the Army in Singapore to travel with the ship to Vung Tau Harbour.
Another problem for Holden in his story is that there was indeed a Lieutenant Donald McNaught, (Vietnam Nominal Roll), Seaman Branch, who served on the Derwent from the 4 November, 1971 to the 8 November, 1971, (4 days) , calculated from the time Derwent left Singapore until it returned to Singapore. However, McNaught was not the Ship's Captain, and he certainly should not have signed anything to certify Holden's alleged operational Vietnam service. Holden's assertion that Lieutenant McNaught was the Commander of Derwent is a lie.
The Ship's Commander from 1971 until early June, 1972 was Commander Rory W. Burnett. He was replaced by Commander Malcolm D. Jackson about the 2nd June, 1972. (Derwent's Report of Proceedings.)
The below information is from Wikipedia.
- After spending the early part of 1971 on training exercises in Australian waters, Derwent sailed to South East Asia in June. In late September, Derwent met Sydney en route to Vietnam for the ship's twenty-second time, delivering a cargo of defence aid and recovering equipment and personnel from multiple units during 6 to 8 October. Derwent returned home late in the year, and visited multiple Australian ports before docking at Williamstown for refit. The refit continued until March 1972, and Derwent remained in Australian waters until August, when a four-month deployment to South East Asia commenced. In addition to port visits and SEATO exercises, Derwent and HMAS Brisbane took part in the first Australian-Indonesian naval exercise in November.
Note. The dates Wikipedia have detailed regarding Derwent's visit to Vung Tau Harbour from the 6 - 8 October 1971 are incorrect. Derwent did not visit Vung Tau in October, 1971. The last recorded visit to Vung Tau Harbour by Derwent was the 4 - 8 November, 1971. On this occasion the ship accompanied the HMAS Sydney. Derwent anchored in Vung Tau Harbour at 6.45am on the 6 November, 1971 and departed 16 hours later at 11pm that night.
Derwent was nowhere near Vietnam in May, 1972. Holden's assertions are lies.
*** If however, we accept the fact that Holden has his dates wrong, and he allegedly visited Vung Tau Harbour on Derwent’s last deployment between 4 - 8 November, 1971, (6 months earlier), the following information, some of which he provided to us, must be taken into consideration.
1. From Holden - He initially informed us by email that when he was on Derwent, it accompanied HMAS Melbourne to Vung Tau Harbour. That is false, the Melbourne never went to Vung Tau Harbour.
2. From Holden - As a 2nd Lieutenant in the Australian Army, he was ordered to man a 50 calibre machine gun on Derwent, whilst the ship was in Vung Tau Harbour.
3.. FACT - He was never a crew member of this ship.
4. From Holden - He claims that another Army Officer was with him, but he cannot be contacted to verify anything, because he is suffering from PTSD over this visit.
5. From Holden - He knows two former Brigadier Generals who can verify his story, but they are in their eighties now. He cannot contact them as they deserve their quiet time.
6. From Holden - His Commanding Officer, who provided written confirmation to him of his Vietnam active service was Commander McNaught.
7. FACT - A Lieutenant McNaught served on the Derwent at the time. Commander Rory Burnett was the Commander, and Captain of the ship.
8. FACT - There are no official records available of Holden’s trip to Vung Tau, including his personal Service Record or Discharge Certificate, which he claims he has lost.
9. FACT - There is a “HMAS Derwent Record of Ships Proceedings for the month of November, 1971”, where Commander Rory Burnett indicates that several unnamed members of the Australian Army were on board his ship for the trip to Vung Tau as a “reciprocal gesture” for the Army, jungle training some of his sailors in Singapore. He states, that a small number of Army personnel were permitted to land briefly to visit Army installations.
FACT -This was not an official "Staff visit or inspection of Australian Forces or equipment in Vietnam" as required by Department of Defence for operational service. Any claim that it was, is false.
10. FACT - Holden was not “allotted for Duty” to a Unit, or as an individual to the operational theatre of South Vietnam. Any claim that he was, is also false.
11. FACT - At the most, he would be classified as a guest of Commander Burnett, due to the “reciprocal gesture”.
12. FACT - He was never posted to Vietnam for a “particular operation” as he has claimed. That is also a lie.
13. FACT - We asked Holden to provide us with evidence that should appear on his discharge certificate, detailing the number of active service days accredited to him on that certificate?
14 From Holden - inter alia, I do not have my discharge certificate. I have moved many times over the last 44 years, and it is the only thing that has gone missing.
15 FACT - Holden’s presence on a tropical voyage, if he did go at all , as a guest of Commander Burnett, was not known by the Department of Defence until 2013, following his application for the AASM 1945-1975, the VLSM, and the RASB.
16. FACT - These trips were commonly known and described by Army personnel during the Vietnam War as "Swannies" or "Junkets".
17. FACT - Therefore, 42 years later, Holden must have arranged some written documentation from "someone", that he was either force assigned or allotted for duty to South Vietnam as an individual, for his application to be accepted, and Vietnam medals awarded.
18. FACT - If this has occurred then one could conclude, that something has taken place, perhaps a conspiracy, by Holden and others, to falsify or embellish his role, e.g. to place him on official duty, in a War Zone, manning a HMAS Derwent 50 calibre machine gun, in order for him to receive those medals and the RASB, from Department of Defence, with all the ensuing Department of Veterans Affairs active service benefits, including service and disability pensions etc, that he will be now eligible to claim for life.
For example, his unnamed Army Officer colleague, who Holden cannot now contact because of his PTSD, caused by this "Swannie."
19. FACT Holden, on request, has failed to provide ANZMI with any supporting documentation from Lieutenant McNaught, or anyone else that confirms his alleged visit to Vung Tau Harbour, Vietnam.
On the 15 December, 2016, Holden sent the following email to ANZMI following his return from his overseas holiday -;
I am home and I have opened my file to be reminded that I have not been awarded the Vietnam Campaign Medal or the Vietnam Medal. I do not have copies of them. I could therefore never have worn them. I have also checked my actual full size and miniature medals and they are correct.
Amazing! In December, 2016, Holden has finally realised that he was never awarded and has no entitlement to the Vietnam Campaign Medal or the Vietnam Medal. (As per the National Serviceman’s application information he provided).
However, he continues to claim operational Vietnam service.
On the 19 December, 2016, he sent the following email and attachment to ANZMI -;
I have never shared this letter before since I regard it as being private and personal to me. I have had to have it scanned since I got back to make this copy. I could not have sent it to you without the scan. Defence awarded these based on their own research but obviously failed to update the Nominal Roll. It is this information and that update that I am seeking from them.
Holden states that "Defence awarded these based on their own research but obviously failed to update the nominal roll" That statement is also not true. The Department of Defence awarded the medals and RASB, based on information that was provided to them by Holden. It was his responsibility to provide the proof, not the Department of Defence.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Repatriation Handbook specifies that -;
“Where the claimant contends that he was allotted for duty in an operational area , and this is not confirmed by his service documents, further information will need to be obtained from the relevant service”
As there was no confirmation of Vietnam service on the records of Holden, or his Discharge Certificate, Department of Defence have obviously awarded him the medals, and the RASB following false documentation submitted by Holden in the year 2013.
Holden by his actions, has contended that he was officially allotted for duty to Vietnam. If you disregard his ridiculous assertion, that his main duty was assignment to a 50 calibre machine gun for the entire time the ship was in harbour in the War Zone, then he had no other allotted duties to perform. He was not there for an official visit or inspection. He was not a HMAS Derwent crew member. He was there following an invitation by Commander Burnett as a good will gesture. Thats all.
ANZMI say documentation submitted by Holden is false and dishonest. He should not have been awarded the AASM 1945- 1975 and the Vietnam Logistic and Support Medal (VLSM) by Department of Defence.
In a previous email to ANZMI, Holden categorically denies ever having claimed to have been a Platoon Commander in 6 Battalion RAR in Vietnam.
However, we located the following current document. -;
The below resume is from a Health Care Action Group website named COUCH WELLNESS CENTRE, based in Cairns, North Queensland.
Holden, who is a Director of this organisation, also claims on the Directors section of the website that he served for two years as a Pioneer Platoon Commander in the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment in Townsville, Singapore/Malaysia and South Vietnam.
Ron Holden – Director Since 2013
Ron Holden was born in Cairns and attended the University of Queensland and completed a Bachelor of Engineering. After earning a commission at the Officer Training Unit, Scheyville in 1970, Ron Served for two years as a Pioneer Platoon Commander in the 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment in Townsville, Singapore/Malaysia and South Vietnam.
Holden never served as a Platoon Commander 6 Battalion RAR in South Vietnam. That statement is also a lie.
We believe that Holden is entitled to wear the -;
1. Australian Service Medal 1945 – 1975 with clasp South East Asia, for 30 days or more peacetime service in Singapore.
2. The Australian Defence Force Medal,
3. Anniversary of National Service Medal.
He is not entitled to wear the rest, and if he has been officially awarded them, then he should hand them back. They were issued on false information provided by Holden to the Department of Defence.
In our last communication with Holden, he informed us that "one of the other 6RAR Officers who was on the same deployment has been awarded the same medals. He is being treated for PTSD and I will not be consulting with him either."
If you believe Holden, it must have been one traumatic trip. Manning machine guns in Vung Tau Harbour could cause all sorts of mental health problems. Especially when it was an in country Rest and Convalescence (R & C.) town for our genuine fighting troops.
We hope that the entire crew of Derwent, who were there at the same time, are not suffering identical effects as Holden's colleague from that traumatic visit.
Incidentally, Commander Rory Burnett in Derwent's Record of Proceedings, for that day, does not indicate that any traumatic incident occurred at all in the ships short 11 hour visit to Vung Tau Harbour.
We have notified Honours and Awards, Department of Defence, Canberra, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. They have advised us to also notify the Police with the factual evidence that we possess.
It is these Departments that should be commencing their own inquiries into investigating alleged evidence of outlandish false claims of "active service" by individuals or groups, We did it all on the public record.
So should they.
Holden is a shameless imposter, who has had the gall to apply for Vietnam Active Service Medals in 2013, that he knows he did not earn, 42 years beforehand.
As a former Commissioned Officer with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the Australian Army, Holden should apologise to all his former colleagues in 6 Battalion RAR, the National Serviceman’s Association, Queensland, and everyone else he has treated with contempt, including his friends at COUCH WELLNESS CENTRE, for wearing unearned Vietnam campaign medals, the RASB, and claiming active service in South Vietnam, when, at the very most, he was a guest of Commander Burnett as a good will "gesture." His PTSD colleague should do the same.
Welcome to the site, former 2nd Lieutenant Ronald Frederick Holden, 6 Battalion RAR.
Joe Serre was born on the 27 August, 1947. He joined the Royal Australian Navy on the 21 September, 1964 for 9 years. Following training, and a number of Shore Base postings, he was deployed to HMAS Melbourne on the 11 January, 1965. He served on and off the ship for the following 7 months. Although he signed for 9 years, he was discharged on application after 5 years, for personal reasons in 1969.
Serre is a lily gilder, an attention seeker, and a glory hunter.
The above photograph, from the Cairns Post, shows a solemn Joe Serre posing for the camera, whilst reflecting back on his Vietnam service on HMAS Melbourne. This photograph was taken at the Cairns Esplanade Cenotaph on Vietnam Veterans Day.
HMAS Melbourne was a Royal Australian Navy Aircraft Carrier that conducted a number of good will tours around the Far East in the period Serre was a member of the crew. It also conducted South East Asia Treaty Organisation exercises and was a member of the Far East Strategic Reserve. (FESR.)
During February and May, 1965, Melbourne served in the Malay Peninsula area and Singapore.
In late May, 1965, whilst in the Singapore area, Melbourne joined company with HMAS Sydney. Sydney was a former Aircraft Carrier, but later converted into a troop and transport ship for purposes of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. At this time, Sydney was en route to Vung Tau, South Vietnam, with troops and supplies for the Australian War effort.
Melbourne accompanied the Sydney to a safe area just outside Vietnam territorial waters. Melbourne stayed in this safe haven for a period of about four days. It was never deployed into the prescribed war zone theatre, or anywhere near land.
FROM RAN RECORDS. – HMAS MELBOURNE.
On 27 March she contributed to Exercise SHOWPIECE off Singapore designed to impress upon the political and military leaders of the region the continued strength and readiness of the British Far East Fleet. She joined HMAS Sydney (III)’s escort force for four days during the troop carrier’s voyage to Vietnam in early June, and arrived back home in Sydney later in the month
However, although not assigned to the theatre, years down the track, and as a result of multiple submissions by Naval Associations, the crew of Melbourne were later accredited with 23 days active service for this escort voyage by Department of Defence. This period included from the date they sailed from the previous port (Singapore) until they reached the next one, which was Sydney, Australia.
Following the representations, in 1993 the crew were entitled to the new award of the Vietnam Logistic Support Medal for the Sydney escort voyage in May, 1965.
In 1997 the crew were entitled to the new award of Australian Active Service Medal 1945-1975, and Return from Active Service Badge for the same escort voyage.
In 1995, the crew were entitled to apply for Australian Service Medal and clasp, for their time in the Malaysian Peninsula and Singapore. Prior to that, the General Service Medal was awarded for that conflict.
Following the commemoration of Vietnam Veterans Day at Cairns, in Northern Queensland, the below mentioned story with his photograph appeared in the The Cairns Post.
Serre was quoted in this article headed as follows -;
VIETNAM VETS STAND TALL TO ATTEND A CEREMONY AT THE CAIRNS ESPLANADE CENOTAPH
Joe Serre served in the Royal Australian Navy during the conflict and was one of the first troops to be involved in the struggle in 1965.
“It took me 30 years before I finally took pride in our country and of what we did, and learnt not to be ashamed of it,” he said.
“We were called a lot of bad things when we got back, but the main thing to remember is we live in a great country and we should be proud.”
In this article Serre claims he was one of the first troops to be involved in the struggle in 1965. Serre did not go anywhere near the coastline and it is doubtful he would have seen anything of a war like nature. He states that he“was called a lot of bad things when we got back”
When Serre returned to Sydney onboard Melbourne on the 22 June, 1965, the crew were not officially publicaly recognised as having served in the South Vietnam war zone for that 4 day escort voyage. They were also not eligible for any medals for that trip. That came later in 1993, when they were awarded 23 days active service for the 4 days outside South Vietnam territorial waters.
No one would have known whether Serre, or the Melbourne went anywhere near the vicinity of South Vietnam when he returned home.
Serre seized an opportunity for the above photograph and his war story to be placed in his local Cairns paper for his own self serving purposes. His story of being called "a lot of bad things when we got back is rubbish."
There were no anti war protests in 1965, and the majority of the Australian population were supportive of our military commitment to the problems facing the Government of South Vietnam at the time. The first Australian anti Vietnam war moratoriums did not take place until May, 1970. Serre was discharged early from the Navy in November, 1969. At that time, his Vietnam medals, (AASM and VLSM) had not been proclaimed.
Serre spent 4 days on a tropical voyage without facing any danger, and he expects us all to believe that he is some sort of trail blazer who was subjected to ridicule for his minimal service.
We get dozens of emails from former Australian soldiers who roughed it “in country”in Vietnam, and Australian sailors who served on the gun line for 6 months, who are disgusted with individuals who seek notoriety and public recognition for very basic service. In this case 4 days in a safe area outside the Territorial waters of the Republic of South Vietnam.
There is an old saying that those who saw the least tend to spruik the most. Serre falls into that category.
ANZMI are here to put things into their proper perspective.
We hope Joe Serre finally remembers his true military service, and leaves the glory to others who are far more qualified to speak about their Vietnam service to Journalists.
Stan Bryant was born in New Zealand on the 12 June, 1949. He emigrated to Australia and worked in various jobs before settling at Kandos, near Mudgee, where he became the proprietor of Bryant's Saddlery, 1 George Street, Kandos. From all accounts he was a well respected member of the community.
In particular, all his friends and acquaintances in the town of Kandos and surrounding towns believed that Stan Bryant was an Australian Army Vietnam War Veteran, who had been awarded the Military Medal for his bravery in that war.
Below is a photograph of Bryant wearing the following medals,
From left to right -;
1. Australian Active Service Medal 1945-1975 (AASM) with clasp Vietnam.Not entitled.
2, The Vietnam Medal, Not entitled.
3. The Australian Defence Medal,Not entitled.
4. The Vietnam Campaign Medal,Not entitled.
5. The Military Medal. Not entitled.
The photograph is from his current Facebook page and had been posted there since at least 2012.
The above photograph is the Military Medal.
Until 1993, the Military Medal (MM) was a military decoration awarded to personnel of the British Army and other services, and formerly also to personnel of other Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank, for bravery in battle on land.
The medal was established on 25 March 1916. It was the other ranks' equivalent to the Military Cross (MC), which was awarded to commissioned officers and, rarely, to warrant officers, although WOs could also be awarded the MM. The MM ranked below the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), which was also awarded to non-commissioned members of the Army.
The Face Book photograph of Bryant was tagged,“Here is a photo of me with my Nam medals.”Then followed a stream of congratulatory emails from his friends and acquaintances complimenting him on his service to the Nation and some saying how poorly, he and his Vietnam Veteran friends were treated on their return home from the War Zone.
Bryant revelled in these comments, most likely feeling like the Kandos town war hero.
Bryant however is just an out and out fraud. An imposter of the highest order. An immoral person, who has stolen the honour of all those who have served in the Australian Army in Vietnam, and other fields of conflict.
Bryant has never served in any capacity in the Australian Army, Navy or Air Force, let alone serving in the active war zone of South Vietnam. To make matters worse, he poses in the photograph with the prestigious Military Medal for bravery.
Coincidentally, it was the Military Medal that aroused the suspicions of genuine veterans that reside in the Kandos-Mudgee areas of New South Wales. Bryant wears the Military Medal last in the set of medals he purchased. The Military Medal should have priority and be worn first. Not having any idea about military medals wearing protocols, Bryant just pinned it to his chest as he saw fit.
Posting fraudulent photographs of themselves wearing un-awarded medals, imposters like Bryant, thrive on the attention they receive. They use words like “Nam” to project an image of their false military service.
Bryant did nothing to correct the wrong. He accepted the adulations of his friends and colleagues on Face Book on Anzac Days, Remembrance Days and Vietnam Veterans Days, for many years.
We sent Stan Bryant an email and invited him to respond to allegations that the medals he wears were not awarded to him.
This is his reply -;
Guilty as charged.
I have never served in the army.
I can offer no explanation for posting that photo other than stupidity.
I had no idea of the signifcance (sic) of the medals and had allways (sic) thought they were not real.
The photo was taken about 1998 and was part of a comercial (sic) photo shoot.
I was given the jacket with medals attached, the walking stick the dark glaseses (sic) and told how to pose etc.
I appoligise (sic) if I offended anyone and will never post this again.
Like all imposters we expose on this site, Bryant is a liar. The only thing Bryant is sorry for is the fact he was caught out. He now faces a mammoth task, trying to convince all of his family and friends that he is not a Vietnam Veteran at all, but only wore the medals as some sort of "photo shoot".
Also, the problem for his story, is that in the photograph that we have edited, two young ladies also appear either side of Bryant. However, they correctly wear ancestor’s medals on the right hand side. Would they have been given their coats and medals to wear as well for a “photo shoot?” Not likely.
Another problem for Bryant is that on his Face Book page he has posted the following entry on the 1 April, 2016.
April 1 •
I wore this with pride!!! so will post as often as I bloodywell like
From Andrea (surname deleted) - You have a lot to be proud of Stan.
From Sue (surname deleted) - Yes, you should and Andrea is right , you do.
From Val (surname deleted) - Go for it.
So by his own admission, Bryant was claiming false Vietnam service in the Australian Army in 1998 when the original photograph was taken, up until the above Face Book entry with the supportive comments from his friends, Andrea, Sue and Val, who obviously believe his lies in 2016. Bryant has therefore been a Vietnam Veteran Imposter since 1998, or 18 years. So much for his "photo shoot excuse."
Following our communication with Bryant, he has now removed his Face Book page photo, where he wears purchased Vietnam medals, and all the praiseworthy comments from his friends, along with it.
Stan Bryant, you are a low life military imposter, who steals the honour of all those who have been to war, and those who have been awarded the Military Medal, both living and deceased.
You have never laced up an Australian Army boot, and you would have no idea what servicemen and women endure to qualify for the medals that you illegally wear.
Bryant has committed offences under the Defence Act 1903, Sections 80A and 80B in falsely representing himself to be a returned serviceman and wearing military medals that have not been awarded to him. These offences each carry a $3,000 fine and or six months imprisonment.
Bryant, you are more than worthy of having your name placed on this website forever.
John Mark Smets is 51 years of age. He resides at Arana Hills, a suburb of Brisbane. He had 21 years service in the Royal Australian Navy, where he performed the duties of a Combat Systems Operator. (Sonar) He discharged in 2004 as a Leading Seaman and then joined the RAN Reserves.
John Smets is Medal Cheat, a Valour Thief, a Fraud and a Love Rat. He has preyed on vulnerable generous women, who have believed his heroic war stories of being a Naval Clearance Diver, in Iraq and Afghanistan. He uses the disability of war caused Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder to convince these women to give him money and lodgings. When he cannot use them anymore, or they refuse to give him more cash, he moves on to next victim.
Below is a photograph of John Mark Smets.
In the above photograph, Smets is wearing the following medals -;
1. Australian Active Service Medal (AASM) with 3 clasps. (East Timor – ICAT – Iraq 2003.) Entitled to AASM with one clasp only – East Timor.. He is not entitled to wear the ICAT clasp (International Coalition against terror) or the Iraq 2003 clasp.
2. Interfet Medal. - Entitled.
3. Afghanistan Medal. – Not entitled.
4. Iraq Medal – Not entitled.
5. Australian Service Medal (ASM) with 3 clasps. (Unknown) - Entitled to ASM with one clasp- Kuwait. Whatever the other two clasps are, he is not entitled to them.
6. Defence Force Service Medal with a 5 year clasp. (DFSM) - Entitled.
7. Australian Defence Force Medal. (ADM) - Entitled.
8. United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor Medal (UNTAET) – Not entitled.
Above his medal rack, Smets is wearing a Royal Australian Navy Parachute qualification badge. He is not entitled to wear this adornment. He never commenced or completed this course.
The image above is of the Royal Australian Navy’s Parachute Qualification Badge, awarded to sailors who have not completed the SAS selection and CT training cycle, but have completed para training and awarded the standard RAN parachutist wing. This includes the Clearance Divers who now form part of the east coast based TAG-E which is structured around the Sydney based 2 Commando Regiment.
He is also not entitled to wear the above blue coloured United Nations beret and hat badge.
Smets served on a number of ships during his RAN service as a Combat Systems Operator (Sonar). However, he never served in Iraq or Afghanistan in a prescribed war like period, and he is not entitled to wear those medals. He also did not serve for 90 consecutive days in East Timor to be eligible to wear the UNTAET medal.
The above medal is the un-awarded Iraq Medal.
The above medal is the un-awarded Afghanistan Medal.
The above medal is the un-awarded UNTAET medal.
UNAMET/UNTAET medal was established on 9 December 1999. The ribbon has two outer bands of UN blue, representing the UN presence in East Timor. Inside the two bands, there are two equal bars - closest to the blue, the bar is crimson, with the bar closest to the center being sunrise yellow. These colours represent the brilliant and spectacular sunrises and sunsets experienced in East Timor. The center of the ribbon is a band of white, traditionally the colour of peace and hope, the goal this Mission seeks to achieve. Qualifying time of service for the reception of UNAMET/UNTAET medal is 90 days.
Smets was never a Clearance Diver with the Royal Australian Navy. That statement is also false.
Smets has been an incorrigible liar for many years. We have been sent statutory declarations from a number of extremely generous women who invited him to live in their homes, because of his alleged acute battle fatigue and lack of finances.
We know that we have only touched the surface with these statutory declarations and we have been assured, that there are many other ladies out there, who are willing to provide further statutory declarations about this Fraud, and his despicable behaviour.
The statutory declarations we have been provided, detail outlandish lies by Smets to ladies to ingratiate himself with them, gain their trust and sympathy and then request financial assistance from them, that he never repays. This behaviour has continued over many years and he has left a trail of disheartened and angry people in his wake.
His lies include -;
• He was a qualified elite RAN Clearance Diver for 20 years.
• He was “dux” of his class at the Clearance Divers Course, and his name is engraved on their Honour Board.
• He became a RAN Clearance Diver Instructor and trained and tested potential clearance divers in Sydney Harbour.
• He served in war like theatres in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan as a RAN Clearance Diver.
• He shot a female in Afghanistan who was subsequently found to have explosives on her.
• Whilst in Afghanistan, he held down the femoral artery of a wounded colleague, and applied pressure for as long as he could, before watching his colleague die.
• He cleared IED’s (Improvised explosive devices) in Iraq and Afghanistan by laying on his stomach and scratching the ground with his fingers, to recover the device.
• He suffers acutely from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
• Due to the clandestine operations he was involved in, all his military records are classified as “Secret”, and they cannot be accessed by anyone.
• He was a RAN Clearance Diver during the Brisbane Floods.
• Although he has acute PTSD, he went to Bond University and qualified as a Solicitor and a Barrister. He came first in his Law Class.
• He is a qualified DVA Pension Officer and Advocate.
• He needs money to send the body of his recently deceased father back to Belgium to be placed in the family vault.
• He is suffering Testicular and prostate cancer, and needs money to pay for his ongoing treatment.
• He does not attend Anzac Day ceremonies now, as he gets too depressed.
We have also been advised by senior Redlands Returned & Services League (RSL) Sub Branch (Qld) officials, that Smets tried to ingratiate himself in their Sub Branch affairs. He claimed that he was a Barrister, and was giving advice on Department of Veterans Affairs pensions, to their members. Most of the time, the information supplied was was found to be incorrect. It was subsequently revealed that he was never a Barrister, a Solicitor, a qualified Pension Officer or an Advocate. He was immediately given the boot by the Redlands RSL, once his fraudulent claims were discovered.
Above are further recent photographs of Smets for the information of any other women or RSL Sub Branches, who could fall prey to John Mark Smets.
We welcome Mr Smets to the growing list of frauds, military imposters and love rats who appear on this site.