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Team 19 in Vietnam: An Australian Soldier at War

by David Millie, University Press of Kentucky, 2013

Americans often forget that they were not the only foreign forces to become involved in the Vietnam War and that the involvement of those allied forces was extensive. A seldom mentioned group among the 8,000 Australians who served there was the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam, a contingent of advisers working with American partners to help the South Vietnamese defend their towns in the countryside. It became the war’s most decorated Australian unit. Team 19 in Vietnam is a memoir by one officer whose tour of duty, in Quang Tri province from May 1968 through April 1969, placed him in an unusual and challenging situation. Operating near the Demilitarized Zone, Major David Millie worked alongside the South Vietnamese and troops of the U.S. Army and the 3rd Marine Division against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. His senior adviser was U.S. Army Colonel Harley F. Mooney. A fellow officer with whom he worked, Major John Shalikashvili, later became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Underlying all their efforts was the growing frustration of the United States’ transition after the Tet Offensive from total commitment in Vietnam to ultimate withdrawal under the best terms it could obtain.

Combining his diary, letters and memories with extensive research, Millie effectively alternates his narrative between overviews of the situation around him and personal memories of Vietnamese villages, people he dealt with and actions he fought in. He presents his conclusions on how the war was fought and his thoughts on the outcome, then comprehensively describes the aftermath, including Australia’s reception and settlement of Vietnamese refugees and his return to Quang Tri province in 2012.

Australian troops in Vietnam were renowned for their professionalism, and this is reflected in Millie’s systematic literary approach. The result is a worthy addition to the multiple insights into the Vietnam experience, here ably presented from one Aussie’s well-considered perspective.


Originally published in the June 2014 issue of Vietnam. To subscribe, click here.