The Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Russ Crane, was pleased to host the award ceremony in HMAS Waterhen for Royal Australian Navy Clearance Divers who served in Vietnam between 1968 and 1970. Clearance Diving Team 3 was awarded two United States Navy Unit Commendations today by the United States Navy’s Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughead.
Forty-three members of Clearance Diving Team 3, one of whom was killed in Vietnam, are eligible for the commendations. The delay in publicly recognising the achievements of Clearance Diving Team 3 was due to the Government policy at the time that restricted the acceptance of foreign awards from the Vietnam War by Australia together with an administrative oversight by Navy.
“When the National President of the Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diving Association, Mr Larry Digney, contacted me earlier this year asking for assistance to investigate the validity and history of these awards, we discovered that both Government policy at the time and latter administrative errors by Navy meant that these men had not been publicly recognised for their achievements.” Vice Admiral Crane said.
The Vietnam veterans were delighted to have the commendations finally awarded to recognise their outstanding service in the Vietnam War alongside their American compatriots. They were equally pleased to receive the commendations in the presence of the current Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Russ Crane, who is also the Navy’s most senior serving Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Officer.
“I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to correct the record for the Clearance Diving Association members to celebrate their 60th Anniversary in April 2011 under the banner of these prestigious awards.” Vice Admiral Crane said.
Vice Admiral Crane concluded, “These men have received a rare honour from the United States Navy for conducting their explosive ordnance disposal duties with exceptional professional competence, disregard for their own safety and an unwavering devotion to duty. This sets the standard for not only our current Navy Clearance Divers, but for all those serving in today’s Royal Australian Navy.”