History of the unit emblem
The unit had an advance party of troops heading to Barra Winga as a shake down prior to going to South Vietnam when Maj McVilly, OC of the unit nearly ran over a tortoise, so he stopped, picked it up and took it with them to the Raspberry Plains Training Area. From this incident the tortoise emblem was born.
The SAIF Story
The first OC was MAJ N.W.J McVilly who started the slogan (Stay Alive In Five) SAIF and of course the unit emblem. MAJ McVilly was replaced by the late MAJ P. Douglas.
The 5th Transport Squadron was formed on 30th May 1966, then known as 5th Transport Company RAASC. The Company was raised at Frasers Paddock, (currently Gallipoli Barracks) from a Citizens Military Forces unit. Immediately after formation, the unit was transferred to Ingleburn, NSW to prepare for duty in South Vietnam. Within three months of being raised, the unit was away on Exercise "Barra Winga" developing skills requited to operate in an operational theatre. In April 1967, the Company relieved the 1st Transport Company and was stationed at Vung Tau for the next five years.
The operational task of the company was to support the 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF) located at Nui Dat.
The Company in Vietnam
When the unit arrived, it was the largest Company group to have served overseas since World War II. The unit comprised of: HQ 5 Coy Raasc, Det 30 Terminal Squadron RAE, 2 Transport Squadron, 85 Transport Platoon, Det 86 Transport Platoon, 25 Supply Platoon, Det 8 Petroleum Platoon, and Det 1 Div S & T Workshop RAEME.
The Unit had a psoted strength of 350 all ranks and was commanded by MAJ N.W.J McVilly.
In May 1967 and October 1967, the Transport Platoons were re-equipped with the then new, 5 ton dump & cargo vehicles, These new trucks made the task of re-supply quicker and more reliable. To cope with the increasing demands of 1 ATF, the Coy ran packets of 6 to 10 vehicles, some packets doing three turn arounds per day to re-supply forward elements. Each truck carried a "shotgun guard" and every packet was accompanied by a Landrover with an M60 machine gun mounted in the tray. Each "Gunjeep" was in constant communications with HQ 5 Coy and 1 ATF on the Task Force Admin Net.
From July 1967 to February 1968, the unit participated in and supported 1 ATF on every taskforce operation. During these 10 months the company supported Operation "Paddington", where a total of 240 tons of ammunition was carried forward to the Fire Support Base. On two occassions, a transport platoon was deployed into the forward operational area, it dug in and defended its own perimeter. They were not infiltrated on any occassion, whilst other units in the same area were. The Company supported Operation "Ainsley" in Sept 1967 by moving 900 Vietnamese families, Oct 1967 Operation "Kenmore" involving Air Despatch crews, Operation "Forest" Nov 1967 to Jan 1968 moving a Field Battery five times into and out of Fire Support Bases, and Operation "Coburg" Jan to Feb 1968 initially deploying the Task Force by road.
Story by Lieutenant Louise Poxon & supplied courtesy of Owen "Wheels" WHEELER - 85 Tpt Pl 1967/68.