Dig­gers win 50-year fight for recog­ni­tion

Sunday Herald Sun - - News - AN­NIKA SMETHURST

AF­TER a 50-year fight, the gal­lantry of the 3000 Aus­tralians who fought at the Bat­tle of Co­ral-Bal­moral in Viet­nam will fi­nally be recog­nised.

Min­is­ter for De­fence Per­son­nel Dar­ren Chester has signed off on a pro­posal to award the Dig­gers in­volved in the bat­tle with a Unit Ci­ta­tion for Gal­lantry, fol­low­ing a rec­om­men­da­tion by the De­fence Hon­ours and Awards Ap­peal Tri­bunal.

Dur­ing the 1968 Bat­tle of Co­ral-Bal­moral, 26 Aus­tralians were killed and more than 100 were wounded.

Since the first of­fi­cial sub- mis­sion was made in 1991, vet­er­ans have waged bat­tles against the gov­ern­ments of seven dif­fer­ent prime min­is­ters for recog­ni­tion.

To­day, vet­er­ans in Canberra will mark the 50th an­niver­sary of the bat­tle.

Mr Chester said it was timely that the gov­ern­ment recog­nised their coura­geous ser­vice.

“The men who fought at fire sup­port bases Co­ral and Bal­moral dis­played col­lec­tive gal­lantry which is wor­thy of the Unit Ci­ta­tion for Gal­lantry,” Mr Chester said.

KA­T­RINA Miles has been re­mem­bered as an “amaz­ing, ded­i­cated mother” and an “in­spi­ra­tion” to the Mar­garet River com­mu­nity for the way she raised her four autis­tic chil­dren.

A close friend yes­ter­day de­scribed Ka­t­rina as a lov­ing and de­ter­mined mother to her el­dest daugh­ter Taye, 13, and sons Ry­lan, 12, Ayre, 10, and Kay­den Cock­man, 8 — four free-spir­ited kids who loved grow­ing up on their grand­par­ents’ hobby farm.

The chil­dren were de­scribed as “bright and in­tel­li­gent”, de­spite their con­di­tion.

“Ka­t­rina home schooled her chil­dren, though she did have the younger ones at Mar­garet River Pri­mary School for 18 months,” she said.

“The love and ded­i­ca­tion she had for her chil­dren was an in­spi­ra­tion to the Margs autism com­mu­nity.

“They need to be re­mem­bered for that.”

Their un­usual names were said to re­flect the free spirit­ed­ness of their mother.

Taye loved tak­ing aerial silk cour­ses run by Wild Star Dance.

She at­tended Mar­garet River Pri­mary School in 2016 where she helped to col­lect five-cent coins to raise money for a new school can­teen.

Ayre re­ceived a merit cer­tifi­cate from the same school in April last year.

All four were said to have loved the wa­ter and had en­joyed learn­ing to swim at the Mar­garet River Swim­ming School.

An­other fam­ily friend said, de­spite grow­ing up with autism, the chil­dren had all been “bright, in­tel­li­gent chil­dren” with the world at their feet.

Post­ings on the so­cial me­dia app Pin­ter­est by Ka­t­rina Miles showed both Taye and Ayre were ob­sessed with Lego, mak­ing Harry Pot­ter, Star Wars and Bat­man-themed cre­ations.

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