Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird MG

Australian Army
To be awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia (posthumous)
Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird MG

For the most conspicuous acts of valour, extreme devotion to duty and ultimate self-sacrifice at Ghawchak village, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan as a Commando Team Commander in Special Operations Task Group on Operation SLIPPER.

Corporal Cameron Baird enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in 2000, was discharged in 2004, and re-enlisted in 2006. In both periods of service, he was assigned to the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando). His operational service includes Operations TANAGER, FALCONER, BASTILLE and five tours on Operation SLIPPER. He was awarded the Medal for Gallantry for his service in Afghanistan in 2007-08.
On 22 June 2013, a Commando Platoon of the Special Operations Task Group, with partners from the Afghan National Security Forces, conducted a helicopter assault into Ghawchak village, Uruzgan Province, in order to attack an insurgent network deep within enemy-held territory. Shortly after insertion, Corporal Baird’s team was engaged by small arms fire from several enemy positions. Corporal Baird quickly seized the initiative, leading his team to neutralise the positions, killing six enemy combatants and enabling the assault to continue.

Soon afterwards, an adjacent Special Operations Task Group team came under heavy enemy fire, resulting in its commander being seriously wounded. Without hesitation, Corporal Baird led his team to provide support. En route, he and his team were engaged by rifle and machine gun fire from prepared enemy positions. With complete disregard for his own safety, Corporal Baird charged towards the enemy positions, supported by his team. On nearing the positions, he and his team were engaged by additional enemy on their flank. Instinctively, Corporal Baird neutralised the new threat with grenades and rifle fire, enabling his team to close with the prepared position. With the prepared position now isolated, Corporal Baird manoeuvred and was engaged by enemy machine gun fire, the bullets striking the ground around him. Displaying great valour, he drew the fire, moved to cover, and suppressed the enemy machine gun position. This action enabled his team to close on the entrance to the prepared position, thus regaining the initiative.

On three separate occasions Corporal Baird charged an enemy-held building within the prepared compound. On the first occasion he charged the door to the building, followed by another team member. Despite being totally exposed and immediately engaged by enemy fire, Corporal Baird pushed forward while firing into the building. Now in the closest proximity to the enemy, he was forced to withdraw when his rifle ceased to function. On rectifying his rifle stoppage, and reallocating remaining ammunition within his team, Corporal Baird again advanced towards the door of the building, once more under heavy fire. He engaged the enemy through the door but was unable to suppress the position and took cover to reload.

For a third time, Corporal Baird selflessly drew enemy fire away from his team and assaulted the doorway. Enemy fire was seen to strike the ground and compound walls around Corporal Baird, before visibility was obscured by dust and smoke. In this third attempt, the enemy was neutralised and the advantage was regained, but Corporal Baird was killed in the effort.

Corporal Baird’s acts of valour and self-sacrifice regained the initiative and preserved the lives of his team members. His actions were of the highest order and in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.

Personal biography
Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird VC MG

Cameron Stewart Baird, VC, MG was born in Burnie, Tasmania on 7 June 1981. In 1984, the Baird family moved to Gladstone Park, Victoria, where Cameron completed his primary and secondary education. He was a keen sportsman, particularly excelling at Australian Rules Football.

Corporal Baird enlisted in the Australian Army on 4 January 2000. After completing his initial employment training, he was in February 2000 posted to the 4th Battalion (Commando), The Royal Australian Regiment, now the 2nd Commando Regiment, based at Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney, New South Wales.

Corporal Baird deployed on seven operations. In April 2001, the-then Private Baird deployed on Operation TANAGER (Timor-Leste). In February 2003, he deployed for the first time on Operation SLIPPER (Afghanistan), followed by Operation BASTILLE (Iraq) and Operation FALCONER (Iraq) in March 2003.

In July 2004, Private Baird resigned from the Australian Defence Force to pursue civilian employment. He returned to service in September 2006, where he was again posted to the 2nd Commando Regiment.

In February 2007, Private Baird was promoted to Lance Corporal. In July the same year, he deployed on Operation SLIPPER (Afghanistan). He was subsequently awarded the Medal for Gallantry, “for gallantry in action during close quarters combat” during an engagement.

In October 2008, Lance Corporal Baird achieved the rank of Corporal, subsequently deploying on Operation SLIPPER (Afghanistan) in February 2009 and again in July 2011. On both deployments, Corporal Baird served as a Team Commander.

Corporal Baird again deployed on Operation SLIPPER (Afghanistan) with the Special Operations Task Group in February 2013. It was during this deployment that Corporal Baird was killed in action by small arms fire in an engagement with insurgents in the Khod Valley, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan on 22 June 2013.

For his actions in the Khod Valley, Corporal Baird has been posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia.

Corporal Baird is only the fourth recipient of the Victoria Cross for Australia and the first to be awarded posthumously. He is the 100th Australian to receive a Victoria Cross since the award was first created by Queen Victoria in 1856.

Corporal Baird is survived by his parents Doug and Kaye, and his brother Brendan.

Corporal Baird’s parents, Mr and Mrs Doug and Kaye Baird, were presented with the award by Her Excellency the Governor-General of Australia at Government House, Canberra on 18 February 2014.
Corporal Baird has previously been awarded the following honours and awards:

  • Victoria Cross for Australia,
  • Medal for Gallantry,
  • Australian Active Service Medal with Clasp East Timor, Clasp Iraq 2003, Clasp International Coalition Against Terrorism,
  • Afghanistan Campaign Medal,
  • Iraq Campaign Medal,
  • Australian Service Medal with Clasp – Counter Terrorism / Special Recovery,
  • Australian Defence Medal,
  • United Nations Medal with Ribbon United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor,
  • NATO non article 5 Medal with Clasp ISAF and Multiple Tour Indicator (3),
  • Infantry Combat Badge, and
  • Returned from Active Service Badge.

Source – Australian Army

Corporal Daniel Alan Keighran, VC Citation

Australian Army
Awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia
Corporal Daniel Alan Keighran, VC Citation

For the most conspicuous acts of gallantry and extreme devotion to duty in action in circumstances of great peril at Derapet, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan as part of the Mentoring Task Force One on Operation SLIPPER.

Corporal Keighran deployed to Afghanistan in February 2010 with the 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment. On 24 August 2010 he was a member of a partnered fighting patrol with soldiers of the Afghan National Army’s 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 205th (Hero) Corps which was engaged by a numerically superior and coordinated enemy attack from multiple firing points in three separate locations. The attack was initiated by a high volume of sustained and accurate machine-gun and small-arms fire which pinned down the combined Australian and Afghan patrol and caused a loss of momentum.

In the early stages of the attack, and upon realising that the forward elements of the patrol needed effective fire support, Corporal Keighran and another patrol member moved under sustained and accurate enemy fire to an exposed ridgeline to identify enemy locations and direct the return fire of both Australian and Afghan machine guns.

On reaching this position and with complete disregard for his own wellbeing, Corporal Keighran deliberately drew enemy fire by leaving the limited cover he had and moved over the ridgeline in order to positively identify targets for the machine gunners of the combined patrol. After identifying some of the enemy firing positions, Corporal Keighran, under persistent enemy fire continued to lead and mentor his team and move around the ridge to both direct the fire of the Afghan and Australian machine gunners and to move them to more effective firing positions.

As the intensity of enemy fire grew, Corporal Keighran returned to the crest of the ridgeline to identify targets and adjust the fire of Australian Light Armoured vehicles. His actions resulted in the effective suppression of enemy firing points, which assisted in turning the fight in the favour of the combined patrol. Moving to a new position, Corporal Keighran deliberately and repeatedly again exposed himself to heavy enemy fire to assist in target identification and the marking of the forward line of troops for fire support elements whilst simultaneously engaging the enemy.

Realising that the new position provided a better location for the patrol’s joint fire controller, Corporal Keighran moved over 100 metres across exposed parts of the ridgeline, attracting a high volume of accurate enemy fire, to locate and move the fire controller to the new position. He then rose from cover again to expose his position on four successive occasions, each movement drawing more intense fire than the last in order to assist in the identification of a further three enemy firing points that were subsequently engaged by fire support elements.

During one of these occasions, when his patrol sustained an Australian casualty, Corporal Keighran with complete disregard for his own safety, left his position of cover on the ridgeline to deliberately draw fire away from the team treating the casualty. Corporal Keighran remained exposed and under heavy fire while traversing the ridgeline, in order to direct suppressing fire and then assist in the clearance of the landing zone to enable evacuation of the casualty.

Corporal Keighran’s acts of the most conspicuous gallantry to repeatedly expose himself to accurate and intense enemy fire, thereby placing himself in grave danger, ultimately enabled the identification and suppression of enemy firing positions by both Australian and Afghan fire support elements. These deliberate acts of exceptional courage in circumstances of great peril were instrumental in permitting the withdrawal of the combined Australian and Afghan patrol with no further casualties. His valour is in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.

Personal biography
Corporal Daniel Alan Keighran, VC

Daniel Alan Keighran was born in Nambour, Queensland on 18 June 1983 and spent his formative years in regional Queensland.

He enlisted in the Australian Army on 5 December 2000 and completed his Initial Employment Training at the School of Infantry in Singleton, New South Wales.

In 2001, Corporal Keighran was posted to the 6th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (6 RAR), where he served as a Rifleman in Delta Company. He deployed to Rifle Company Butterworth Malaysia in 2001, on Operation CITADEL – East Timor in 2003/2004 and again to Rifle Company Butterworth Malaysia in 2004.

Corporal Keighran was promoted to Lance Corporal in 2005 and then served within Mortar Platoon, Support Company, 6 RAR.

In 2006, he deployed on Operation CATALYST Iraq where he served as a Bushmaster driver, a role he also filled on deployment to Afghanistan with Operation SLIPPER in 2007, where he served in support of the Special Operations Task Group Rotation 4/5.

In 2009, he was promoted to Corporal and posted back to Delta Company, 6 RAR.

In 2010, Corporal Keighran deployed to Afghanistan on Operation SLIPPER with Mentoring Task Force 1 (MTF-1), becoming a mentor midway through his tour.

For his actions carried at Derapet, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, he was invested with the Victoria Cross for Australia by Her Excellency the Governor-General of Australia at Government House, Canberra on 1 November 2012.

Corporal Keighran transferred to the Active Reserve in 2011, at the same time commencing a civilian career in the mining industry. He is currently posted to the 11th/28th Battalion, the Royal Western Australia Regiment (11/28 RWAR), a Reserve infantry battalion of the Australian Army. He is married to Kathryn.

Corporal Keighran has been awarded the following honours and awards:

  • Victoria Cross for Australia
  • Australian Active Service Medal with Clasp Iraq and Clasp ICAT
  • Iraq Campaign Medal
  • Afghanistan Campaign Medal
  • Australian Service Medal with Clasp East Timor
  • Australian Defence Medal
  • United Nations Mission in Support of East Timor Medal
  • NATO Non Article 5 Medal with Clasp ISAF
  • Meritorious Unit Citation for 1-MTF
  • Infantry Combat Badge

Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith, VC, MG Citation

Australian Army
Awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia
Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith, VC, MG Citation

For the most conspicuous gallantry in action in circumstances of extreme peril as Patrol Second-in-Command, Special Operations Task Group on Operation SLIPPER.

Corporal Benjamin Roberts Smith enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in 1996. After completing the requisite courses, he was posted the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment where he saw active service in East Timor. In January 2003, he successfully completed the Australian Special Air Service Regiment Selection Course.

During his tenure with the Regiment, he deployed on Operation VALIANT, SLATE, SLIPPER, CATALYST and SLIPPER II. Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith was awarded the Medal for Gallantry for his actions in Afghanistan in 2006.

On the 11th June 2010, a troop of the Special Operations Task Group conducted a helicopter assault into Tizak, Kandahar Province, in order to capture or kill a senior Taliban commander.

Immediately upon the helicopter insertion, the troop was engaged by machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire from multiple, dominating positions. Two soldiers were wounded in action and the troop was pinned down by fires from three machine guns in an elevated fortified position to the south of the village. Under the cover of close air support, suppressive small arms and machine gun fire, Corporal Roberts Smith and his patrol manoeuvred to within 70 metres of the enemy position in order to neutralise the enemy machine gun positions and regain the initiative.

Upon commencement of the assault, the patrol drew very heavy, intense, effective and sustained fire from the enemy position. Corporal Roberts Smith and his patrol members fought towards the enemy position until, at a range of 40 metres, the weight of fire prevented further movement forward. At this point, he identified the opportunity to exploit some cover provided by a small structure.

As he approached the structure, Corporal Roberts Smith identified an insurgent grenadier in the throes of engaging his patrol. Corporal Roberts Smith instinctively engaged the insurgent at point-blank range resulting in the death of the insurgent. With the members of his patrol still pinned down by the three enemy machine gun positions, he exposed his own position in order to draw fire away from his patrol, which enabled them to bring fire to bear against the enemy. His actions enabled his Patrol Commander to throw a grenade and silence one of the machine guns. Seizing the advantage, and demonstrating extreme devotion to duty and the most conspicuous gallantry, Corporal Roberts Smith, with a total disregard for his own safety, stormed the enemy position killing the two remaining machine gunners.

His act of valour enabled his patrol to break-in to the enemy position and to lift the weight of fire from the remainder of the troop who had been pinned down by the machine gun fire. On seizing the fortified gun position, Corporal Roberts Smith then took the initiative again and continued to assault enemy positions in depth during which he and another patrol member engaged and killed further enemy. His acts of selfless valour directly enabled his troop to go on and clear the village of Tizak of Taliban. This decisive engagement subsequently caused the remainder of the Taliban in Shah Wali Kot District to retreat from the area.

Corporal Roberts Smith’s most conspicuous gallantry in a circumstance of extreme peril was instrumental to the seizure of the initiative and the success of the troop against a numerically superior enemy force. His valour was an inspiration to the soldiers with whom he fought alongside and is in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.

Australian Army
Awarded the Medal for Gallantry
Lance Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith Citation

For gallantry in action in hazardous circumstances as a patrol sniper in the Special Operations Task Group – Task Force 637, whilst deployed on Operation SLIPPER Rotation Three Afghanistan, May – September 2006.

On the night of 31st May 2006, Lance Corporal Roberts Smith was employed as a patrol scout and sniper in a patrol which was tasked with establishing an Observation Post near the Chora Pass in extremely rugged terrain overlooking an Anti Coalition Militia sanctuary. Early in the patrol, after an arduous ten hour foot infiltration up the side of a mountain, the patrol was required to coordinate offensive air support to assist a combined Special Operations Task Group and other Special Forces patrol who were in contact with the Anti Coalition Militia in the valley floor to their north. Following this engagement the patrol remained in the Observation Post to continue providing vital information on the Anti Coalition Militia in the area. This comprehensive reporting had a significant effect on shaping the local area for the subsequent coalition forces operation.

On the 2nd June, the Observation Post had become the focus of the Anti Coalition Militia force and repeated attempts to locate and surround the position ensued. In one particular incident the Militia attempted to outflank the Observation Post. Lance Corporal Roberts Smith was part of a two man team tasked to move out of their relatively secure Observation Post in order to locate and neutralise the Militia and regain the initiative. This task was successfully achieved.

In another incident, two Anti Coalition Militia attempted to attack the Observation Post from a different flank, Lance Corporal Roberts Smith again moved to support and neutralise one of these Militia. Lance Corporal Roberts Smith then realised that the forward edge of the Observation Post was not secure and made the decision to split the team and take up an exposed position forward of the patrol so he could effectively employ his sniper weapon. Whilst isolated, and in his precarious position, he observed a group of sixteen Anti Coalition Militia advancing across open ground towards the Observation Post. Lance Corporal Roberts Smith effectively employed his sniper rifle to stop their advance whilst receiving very accurate small arms fire from another group of Militia to his flank.

Through his efforts, Lance Corporal Roberts Smith maintained the initiative and ensured that his patrol remained secure by holding this position without support for twenty minutes. He was eventually reinforced by his original team member and together they continued to hold off the Militia advance for a further twenty minutes until offensive air support arrived.

Lance Corporal Roberts Smith’s actions on the 2nd June 2006, whilst under heavy Anti Coalition Militia fire and in a precarious position, threatened by a numerically superior force, are testament to his courage, tenacity and sense of duty to his patrol. His display of gallantry in disregarding his own personal safety in maintaining an exposed sniper position under sustained fire with a risk of being surrounded by the Anti Coalition Militia was outstanding. His actions, in order to safeguard his patrol, were of the highest order and in keeping with the finest traditions of Special Operations Command Australia, the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.

Personal biography
Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith, VC, MG

Benjamin Roberts-Smith was born in Perth on 1 November 1978.

He enlisted in the Australian Army on 11 November 1996. He completed his training at the School of Infantry, Singleton, New South Wales. In 1997, Corporal Roberts‑Smith was posted to the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) where he served as a Rifleman in C Company, before advancing on to be a section commander in Direct Fire Support Weapons platoon.

During his tenure with 3RAR, Corporal Roberts‑Smith deployed twice as part of the Rifle Company Butterworth Malaysia, and conducted two operational tours of East Timor including INTERFET in 1999.

In 2003, Corporal Roberts-Smith completed the SASR selection course and was selected to commence the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) reinforcement cycle. On completion of the reinforcement cycle, he was posted to 3 Squadron, where he served as a member of the Tactical Assault Group West and the Contingency Squadron.
While with 3 Squadron, Corporal Roberts‑Smith was a member of a number of training and assistance teams throughout South East Asia. He was deployed on operations to Fiji in 2004, and has also deployed on Recovery Operations, as well as a number of personnel security detachments in Iraq throughout 2005/2006.

2006 saw Corporal Roberts‑Smith deployed as part of the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) in Afghanistan where he was subsequently awarded the Medal of Gallantry. He was again deployed with the SOTG in Afghanistan in 2007, and on his return was posted to Operational Support Squadron as a member of the Selection Wing where he took part in the training of SASR Reinforcements.

In 2009, Corporal Roberts‑Smith was then posted to 2 Squadron where he deployed as a patrol second in command to Afghanistan. Upon his return, Corporal Roberts‑Smith completed the SASR Patrol Commanders Course, and in 2010 was again deployed with the SOTG in Afghanistan. For his actions carried out within Tizak, Afghanistan, he was invested by Her Excellency the Governor‑General of Australia at Campbell Barracks, Perth on 23 January 2011.

Corporal Roberts‑Smith is currently posted to the Special Air Service Regiment. He is married to Emma, and they are the proud parents of 5‑month old twin girls, Eve and Elizabeth.

TROOPER MARK GREGOR DONALDSON

AUSTRALIAN ARMY
AWARDED THE VICTORIA CROSS FOR AUSTRALIA
TROOPER MARK GREGOR DONALDSON

For most conspicuous acts of gallantry in action in a circumstance of great peril in Afghanistan as part of the Special Operations Task Group during Operation SLIPPER, Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan.

Trooper Mark Gregor Donaldson enlisted into the Australian Army on 18 June 2002. After completing Recruit and Initial and Employment Training he was posted to the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment. Having successfully completed the Special Air Service Selection Course in April 2004, Trooper Donaldson was posted to Special Air Service Regiment in May 2004.

On 2 September 2008, during the conduct of a fighting patrol, Trooper Donaldson was travelling in a combined Afghan, US and Australian vehicle convoy that was engaged by a numerically superior, entrenched and coordinated enemy ambush. The ambush was initiated by a high volume of sustained machine gun fire coupled with the effective use of rocket propelled grenades. Such was the effect of the initiation that the combined patrol suffered numerous casualties, completely lost the initiative and became immediately suppressed. It was over two hours before the convoy was able to establish a clean break and move to an area free of enemy fire.

In the early stages of the ambush, Trooper Donaldson reacted spontaneously to regain the initiative. He moved rapidly between alternate positions of cover engaging the enemy with 66mm and 84mm anti-armour weapons as well as his M4 rifle. During an early stage of the enemy ambush, he deliberately exposed himself to enemy fire in order to draw attention to himself and thus away from wounded soldiers. This selfless act alone bought enough time for those wounded to be moved to relative safety.

As the enemy had employed the tactic of a rolling ambush, the patrol was forced to conduct numerous vehicle manoeuvres, under intense enemy fire, over a distance of approximately four kilometres to extract the convoy from the engagement area. Compounding the extraction was the fact that casualties had consumed all available space within the vehicles. Those who had not been wounded, including Trooper Donaldson, were left with no option but to run beside the vehicles throughout. During the conduct of this vehicle manoeuvre to extract the convoy from the engagement area, a severely wounded coalition force interpreter was inadvertently left behind. Of his own volition and displaying complete disregard for his own safety, Trooper Donaldson moved alone, on foot, across approximately 80 metres of exposed ground to recover the wounded interpreter. His movement, once identified by the enemy, drew intense and accurate machine gun fire from entrenched positions. Upon reaching the wounded coalition force interpreter, Trooper Donaldson picked him up and carried him back to the relative safety of the vehicles then provided immediate first aid before returning to the fight.

On subsequent occasions during the battle, Trooper Donaldson administered medical care to other wounded soldiers, whilst continually engaging the enemy.

Trooper Donaldson’s acts of exceptional gallantry in the face of accurate and sustained enemy fire ultimately saved the life of a coalition force interpreter and ensured the safety of the other members of the combined Afghan, US and Australian force. Trooper Donaldson’s actions on this day displayed exceptional courage in circumstances of great peril. His actions are of the highest accord and are in keeping with the finest traditions of the Special Operations Command, the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.

Personal biography of Trooper Mark Gregor Strang Donaldson, VC

Mark Donaldson was born in Waratah, Newcastle, NSW on 2 April 1979. He spent his formative years in northern NSW where he graduated from high school in 1996.

Trooper Donaldson enlisted into the Australian Army on 18 June 2002 and entered recruit training at the Army Recruit Training Centre, Kapooka, NSW. He demonstrated an early aptitude for soldiering and was awarded the prizes for best shot and best at physical training in his platoon. Subsequently he was allocated to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps and posted to the school of infantry at Singleton, NSW, where he excelled in his initial employment training. At the completion of this training he was again awarded best shot and best at physical training, as well as the award for the most outstanding soldier in his platoon.

He was posted to 1st battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Townsville, QLD in November 2002. It was during this time that Trooper Donaldson decided to pursue his ambition to join the Special Air Service Regiment.

In February 2004, he successfully completed the Special Air Service Regiment selection course and was posted to the regiment in May 2004. He was then posted to I Troop, 3 Special Air Service Squadron. Since that time he has been deployed on operations to East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq.

On 12 August 2008, Trooper Donaldson was wounded in action whilst conducting nightime operations in Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan. He recovered from his minor wounds and continued on the deployment.

Trooper Donaldson was involved in an incident on 2 September 2008 in Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan that resulted in him being awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia. He was invested by her Excellency the Governor-General of Australia at Government House, Canberra on 16 January 2009. Trooper Donaldson remains posted to the Special Air Service Regiment in Perth, WA.

Trooper Donaldson is married to Emma and has a daughter Kaylee. His parents are deceased.

Kevin Arthur Wheatley VC

Kevin Arthur Wheatley VC
29890 Warrant Officer Class II Kevin Arthur WHEATLEY
Australian Army Training Team Vietnam

13 November 1965, at Tra Bong Valley, Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam On 13th November 1965 at approximately 1300 hours, a Vietnamese Civil Irregular Defence Group company commenced a search and destroy operation in the Tra Bong Valley. Accompanying the force were Captain F Fazekas and Warrant Officers KA Wheatley and RG Swanton. At about 1340 hours, Warrant Officer Wheatley reported contact with the enemy. Enemy resistance strengthened and finally Warrant Officer Wheatley asked for assistance. Captain Fazekas immediately organised the centre platoon to help and personally led and fought towards the action area. While moving forward he received another radio message from Warrant Officer Wheatley to say that Warrant Officer Swanton had been hit in the chest, and requested an air strike and an aircraft, for the evacuation of casualties.

At about this time the right platoon broke in the face of heavy enemy fire and began to scatter. Although told by the medical assistant that Warrant Officer Swanton was dying, Warrant Officer Wheatley refused to abandon him. He discarded his radio to enable him to half drag, half carry Warrant Officer Swanton, under heavy machine-gun and automatic rifle fire, out of the open rice paddies into the comparative safety of a wooded area, some 200 metres away. He was assisted by a Private Dinh Do who, when the Viet Cong were only some ten metres away, urged him to leave his dying comrade. Again he refused, and was seen to pull the pins from two grenades and calmly awaited the enemy, holding one grenade in each hand. Shortly afterwards, two grenade explosions were heard, followed by several bursts of small arms fire. The two bodies were found at first light next morning after the fighting had ceased, with Warrant Officer Wheatley lying beside Warrant Officer Swanton. Both had died of gunshot wounds.

“Warrant Officer Wheatley displayed magnificent courage in the face of an overwhelming Viet Cong force which was later estimated at more than a company. He had the clear choice of abandoning a wounded comrade and saving himself by escaping or of staying with Warrant Officer Swanton and thereby facing certain death. He deliberately chose the latter course. His acts of heroism, determination and unflinching loyalty in the face of the enemy will always stand as examples of the true meaning of valour”

Peter Badcoe VC

Peter Badcoe VC
41400 Major Peter John BADCOE
Australian Army Training Team Vietnam.

23 February to 7 April 1967.

Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam On 23 February, in Phu Thu District, Major Badcoe with complete disregard for his own safety moved alone across 600 metres of fire swept ground and reached a United States Medical Adviser wounded by enemy fire, attended to him and ensured his future safety. He then organised a force of one platoon and led them towards the enemy post. His personal leadership, words of encouragement, and actions in the face of hostile enemy fire, forced the platoon to successfully assault the enemy position and capture it.

On 7th March 1967, in Quang Dien District, Major Badcoe led a company in an attack over open terrain to assault and capture a heavily defended enemy position. In the face of certain death and heavy losses his personal courage and leadership turned certain defeat into victory and prevented the enemy from capturing District Headquarters.

On 7th April 1967, in Huong Tra District, Major Badcoe was with a South Vietnamese company which came under heavy small arms fire and withdrew to a cemetery for cover. This left Major Badcoe and his radio operator about 50 metres in front of the leading elements, under heavy mortar fire. Seeing this withdrawal, Major Badcoe ran back to them, moved amongst them and by encouragement and example got them moving forward again. He then set out in front of the company to lead them on and when getting up to throw a grenade he was hit and killed by a burst of machine gun fire.

“Major Badcoe’s conspicuous gallantry and leadership on all these occasions was an inspiration to all, each action, ultimately, was successful, due entirely to his efforts, the final one ending in his death. His valour and leadership were in the best traditions of the military profession and the Australian Regular Army”.

Rayene Simpson VC

Rayene Simpson VC
Warrant Officer Class II Rayene Stewart SIMPSON DCM
Australian Army Training Team

6th and 11th May 1969, Kontum Province, South Vietnam “On 6th May 1969, Warrant Officer Simpson was serving as Commander of 232nd Mobile Strike Force of 5th Special Forces Group on a search and clear operation in Kontum Province, near the Laotian border. When one of his platoons became heavily engaged with the enemy, he led the remainder of his company to its assistance. As the company moved forward, an Australian Warrant Officer commanding one of the platoons was seriously wounded and the assault began to falter. Warrant Officer Simpson, at great personal risk carried the Warrant Officer to safety. He then returned to his company where, with complete disregard for his safety, he crawled forward to within ten metres of the enemy and threw grenades into their positions.

On 11 May 1969, in the same operation, Warrant Officer Simpson’s Battalion Commander was killed and an Australian Warrant Officer and several others wounded. Warrant Officer Simpson quickly organised two platoons and led them to the position of the contact. Warrant Officer Simpson came under heavy fire. Disregarding his own safety, he moved forward in the face of accurate enemy machine gun fire, in order to cover the initial evacuation of casualties. At the risk of almost certain death he made several attempts to move further forward towards his Battalion Commander’s body but on each occasion he was stopped by heavy fire. Realising the position was becoming untenable, Warrant Officer Simpson alone and still under enemy fire covered the withdrawal until the wounded were removed from the immediate vicinity.

Warrant Officer Simpson’s repeated acts of personal bravery in this operation were an inspiration to all Vietnamese, United States and Australian soldiers who served with him. His conspicuous gallantry was in the highest tradition of the Australian Army.”

Keith Payne VC

Keith Payne VC
24492 Warrant Officer Class II Keith PAYNE
Australian Army Training Team, Vietnam
24th May 1969, Konum Province, South Vietnam

“On 24TH May 1969, in Kontum Province, Warrant Officer Payne was Commanding 212th Company of 1st Mobile Strike Force Battalion when the battalion was attacked by a North Vietnamese force of superior strength.

Under this heavy attack the indigenous soldiers began to fall back. Directly exposing himself to the enemy’s fire, Warrant Officer Payne, through his own efforts, temporarily held off the assaults by alternately firing his weapon and running from position to position collecting grenades and throwing them at the assaulting enemy. While doing this he was wounded in the hand and arms.

Despite his outstanding efforts, the indigenous soldiers gave way under the enemy’s increased pressure and the Battalion Commander, together with several advisors and a few soldiers, withdrew. Paying no attention to his wounds and under extremely heavy enemy fire, Warrant Officer Payne covered his withdrawal by throwing grenades and firing his own weapon at the enemy who were attempting to follow up. Still under fire, he then ran across exposed ground to head off his own troops who were withdrawing in disorder. He successfully stopped them and organised the remnants of his and the second company into a temporary defensive perimeter by nightfall.

Having achieved this, Warrant Officer Payne of his own accord and at great personal risk, moved out of the perimeter into the darkness alone in an attempt to find the wounded and other indigenous soldiers. He finally collected forty lost soldiers, some of whom had been wounded and returned with this group to the temporary defensive position he had left, only to find that the remainder of the battalion had moved back. Undeterred by this setback and personally assisting a seriously wounded American advisor he led the group through the enemy to the safety of his battalion base. His sustained and heroic personal efforts, in this action were outstanding and undoubtedly saved the lives of a large number of his indigenous soldiers and several of his fellow advisors.

Warrant Officer Payne’s repeated acts of exceptional personal bravery and unselfish conduct in this operation were an inspiration to all Vietnamese, United States and Australian soldiers who served with him. His conspicuous gallantry was in the highest traditions of the Australian Army”

Source – AWM and Dept of Defence