On the 18th August 1966 a very large and intense battle was fought in a rubber plantation at a place called Long Tan, Phuoc Tuy Province, in the Republic of South Vietnam. The battle involved 105 soldiers from Delta Company 6 Battalion Royal Australian Regiment and 3 New Zealand Gunners from the Royal New Zealand Artillery Battery. Against this small ANZAC force was an estimated 2500 hardened Viet Cong regular soldiers. Despite these horrendous odds the soldiers on the ground managed (with support from Armour, Artillery and a helicopter ammunition drop, as well as reinforcements from the Task Force), to overcome and gain the upper hand against the superior enemy numbers. The casualty list was high with 18 Australians Killed in Action and 24 Wounded in Action.

Nathan & Mel McCormack lay a wreath in honour of their Uncle Dennis McCormack.

Padua’s connection to this battle was significant with three old boys involved in the battle. Dennis McCormack and Kevin Branch were with Delta Company and John Cathcart was with 105 Battery Royal Australian Artillery at the Task Force. Both Dennis and Kevin were National Servicemen who were called into the Army when National Service was reintroduced in 1965. All three boys were original Paduans when the College commenced in January 1956. Unfortunately, it was during the battle of Long Tan that Private Dennis McCormack became the first Old Boy from the College to be Killed in Action.

Three years after the Long Tan battle another former student of the College, Peter Kowalski was also called into the Army as a National Servicemen. Peter completed Senior with the class of 1965 and went into the Army in July 1969. Peter was posted to 2 Platoon Alpha Company of the Second Battalion Royal Australian Regiment/New Zealand (ANZAC) Battalion. By February 1971, Peter had completed eight grueling months of his twelve-month tour of duty in South Vietnam. At approximately 5:30pm on the 8th February, 1971, Peter’s Platoon was patrolling about three kilometers south-east of a feature called Courtney Hill. They were moving along the edge of a rubber plantation, searching for a place to use as a night ambush position when a powerful mine was detonated by the enemy. The blast from the mine explosion killed Peter and seriously wounded another Australian soldier from the platoon. Private Peter Kowalski became the second Padua Old Boy to be Killed in Action during the Vietnam War.

Mrs Kowalski & Sabina McDonald honouring their Son and Brother at the College dedication in 2016.

To coincide with the 50th anniversary of Long Tan – 18th August 2016, the then Rector Bob Out announced that the College would dedicate a plaque acknowledging all Old Boys who served during the Vietnam War.  A committee was formed from a group of Vietnam Veterans and other Old Boys, and after much research over a period of time, it was established that 44 Old Boys of the College served in various Branches of the armed forces during the Vietnam War. Of the 44 there were 8 Royal Australian Navy (RAN), 30 Australian Army (of which 21 were National Servicemen), and 6 Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The plaque was blessed and sited in the College foreground area near the flags adjacent to the entrance to the Secondary College.



THE VIETNAM WAR 1962 – 1975

Bates John                    RAN

Beeston Henry            Army National Service

Branch Kevin              Army National Service (Since passed away)

Brown Noel                Army National Service

Carvey Barry              Army

Cathcart John              Army (Since passed away)

Collins Bruce               Army

Coppleman John         Army National Service (Since passed away)

Costin Greame             Army National Service

Cross Michael              RAN

Cross Peter                  Army National Service

Cunningham Brian      Army National Service

Daly Michael               Army National Service

Day Darryl                   RAAF

Doherty James             Army National Service

Evans Ronald               Army Wounded in Action (Since passed away)

Gallagher Michael      Army National Service (Since passed away)

Gray Earle                   RAN

Hannon John               Army

Horne Francis             RAAF (Since passed away)

Ingram Paul                 Army

Kowalski Peter           Army National Service Killed in Action

Lee Warren                 Army National Service

Maguire Ken                Army

Maguire Ray                RAN (Since passed away)

Mapstone Gerard         RAAF

Marshall Bill                Army National Service

McCormack Dennis     Army National Service Killed in Action

McDonald Alan           RAN

Nolan Patrick               RAN

Norquay Dennis          RAN

Priest Brian                  Army Wounded in Action (Since passed away)

Robinson Neil              Army National Service Wounded in Action

Sammartino Samuel    Army National Service

Spillane Bernard          RAAF

Stott Jose                      RAN

Stranks Robert William           Army National Service

Tatasciore George        Army National Service

Taylor Paul                  Army national Service (Since passed away)

Thistleton Terry           Army National Service

Tonks Barry                 RAAF

Waters Peter                Army National Service Wounded in Action (Since passed away)

Wheldon Gary             RAAF

Whitton Gregory          Army Wounded in Action


The plaque dedication is a permanent memento and reminder of Padua’s contribution and connection to the Vietnam War and forms a significant part of the its history. Most importantly it serves to honour our Old Boys Dennis McCormack and Peter Kowalski who made the ultimate sacrifice.