Private war of Don Tate
HE'S COPPED bashings and death threats, but Vietnam veteran and war author Don Tate refuses to stop shining a light on what he claims is one of Australia's biggest wartime cover-ups.
As a young soldier in 1969, Tate said he witnessed atrocities which included parading dead Viet Cong through a village roped to the underside of armoured vehicles.
His book, Anzacs Betrayed, recounts the story of the 2nd D&E "ghost platoon" ordered to perpetrate those acts.
Mr Tate launched the book last night at Lismore City Library.
The existence of the 2nd D&E was only recently confirmed in 2008 by then Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support, Labor MP Mike Kelly, after 40 years of silence.
Tate claims national historians actively deceived inquiries by the Australian Parliament for almost a decade about the platoon, and that he was a victim of an "orchestrated campaign" by the military to shut him up.
He said the existence of the platoon was erased from records because of the atrocities and thanks to a convenient clerical error when the unit was formed.
The 39-strong platoon took part in one of the notable engagements of Australia's Vietnam war - the night-time Thua Tich ambush, in which the small force killed an estimated 50 Viet Cong.
Following that, Tate said they were ordered to blow up dead Viet Cong, tie bodies to vehicles, and fire shots at villagers.
Mr Tate said he was forced to expose the atrocities because, ironically, good soldiers weren't getting the recognition they deserved.
"At least two men were denied pensions based on the fact that the platoon didn't exist," he said.
"It's a moral imperative to have history correct and you can't have military leaders fudging the history books."