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January 31, 2013
SIX former Navy clearance divers have
been honoured with a US Presidential
Unit Citation more than four decades
after their highly dangerous military
operation during the Vietnam War.
Members of CDT-3 Contingent Four
were presented with the citation in rec-
ognition of their “extraordinary heroism
and outstanding performance of duty”
during Operation SEALORDS.
The award was presented by
CN VADM Ray Griggs and US
Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich at a ceremo-
ny at HMAS Penguin on November 30.
CN said CDT-3 was the only Navy
unit or establishment to be awarded a
US Presidential Unit Citation.
Signed by former US President
Richard Nixon, the citation acknowl-
edges CDT-3’s contribution to Op
SEALORDS in the Mekong Delta from
August 1968 to March 1969, which dis-
rupted enemy supply lines.
SEALORDS – an acronym for
South-East Asia Lake, Ocean, River,
and Delta Strategy – involved Navy
divers working in two-man teams to
clear the waterways of countless enemy
bunkers and booby-traps.
Commander CDT-3 Contingent Four
CMDR Clem Littlemore and three of
his men, Barry Wilson, Col Darling and
Robert Spicer, said they were honoured
to receive the award, which was pre-
sented in 1975 to all US military per-
sonnel involved in SEALORDS.
Mr Darling, who was 18 when he
deployed to Vietnam in 1968, said it
was an important occasion.
“The award was worth the wait
because of the recognition it brings to
the clearance diving branch,” he said.
VADM Griggs said the award
should have been presented many years
“These men have received a rare
honour for conducting their explosive
ordnance disposal duties with excep-
tional professional competence, disre-
gard for their own safety and an unwa-
vering devotion to duty,” he said.
“This sets the standard for not only
our current Navy clearance divers, but
for all those serving in today’s Navy.”
The delay publicly recognising the
achievements of CDT-3 was due to gov-
ernment policy at the time that restrict-
ed Australia’s acceptance of foreign
awards from the Vietnam War.
Sadly, the award came too late for
team member Robert Cox who died
He was represented at the ceremo-
ny by his grandson, Spencer Broom.
The final member of Contingent Four,
David Rhook, could not make the pres-
RAN Clearance Diving Association
National President Larry Digney said
the award recognised Australia’s close
relationship with the US.
“The citation reflects the high regard
of our US ally, which was earned
through clearance diving operations in
Vietnam,” he said.
The citation follows the presentation
of two US Navy unit commendations to
43 surviving members of CDT-3 by US
Chief of Naval Operations ADM Gary
Roughead at a ceremony at HMAS
Waterhen last year.
ADM Roughead presented the unit
commendations to Navy divers who
served in the former Republic of South
Vietnam from 1968 to 1970.
The two unit commendations were
for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal
Mobile Unit Pacific units from January
1968 to December 1970, and Task Force
115.9/Inshore Undersea Warfare Group
One, Western Pacific Detachment, from
June 1969 to November 1970.
NAVY’S Clearance Diving Team
Three (CDT-3) was one of the
smallest Australian units to serve in
the Vietnam War.
CDT-3 was an elite group of
officers and men who established
an enviable reputation for courage
and innovation while undertaking
the dangerous business of explosive
ordnance disposal in South Vietnam.
The first contingent of six per-
sonnel arrived in Vietnam on
February 5, 1967, and was initially
attached to a United States Navy
explosive ordnance disposal team
based in Saigon.
The team later moved to Vung
Tau where it became involved in
Operation Stable Door – the defence
of shipping against enemy saboteur
and swimmer attack.
There the team was responsible
for searching the hulls and anchor
cables of shipping for improvised
Later in the war the role of the
clearance divers expanded to include
the salvage of downed military heli-
copters, the searching of villages for
ammunition caches and the demoli-
tion of Viet Cong cave and tunnel
CDT-3 was originally direct-
ed not to participate in US Navy
Seal-type operations (USN Special
Forces) or in operations along the
Cambodian border, however, the
prohibition was lifted in January
1969, allowing team members to
make full use of their unique skills.
Between February 1967 and May
1971, eight contingents of six per-
sonnel from CDT-3 were rotated
through Vietnam at approximately
Seven personnel were decorated,
while others received recognition
from the United States and South
One member, ABCD B.K.
Wojcik, died as a result of a jeep
accident in June 1970.
CDT-3 was disbanded in 1971
and did not reform again until 1991.
The traditions established by
CDT-3 personnel in Vietnam have
been carried forth by their succes-
sors who continue to live up to the
clearance diver’s motto: ‘united and
United and undaunted
at last for
COURAGEOUS UNIT: ABCDs Col Darling and R.H . Spencer
of CDT-3 enjoy a brief reunion with LSCD H.R . Bankstone,
centre, on board HMAS Perth in Vietnam in December 1968.
Photo: Courtesy of Australian War Memorial
DELAYED REACTION: Former clearance divers and recipients of the
Presidential Unit Citation from left, Robert Spicer, Col Darling, Sally Broom
and son Spencer (representing Robert Cox), Barry Wilson and Clem
Littleton pose for a photo after receiving the citation. Mr Darling is also
picture in Vietnam (right).
Photo by ABIS Chantell Bianchi
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