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30 August - Keith Payne, last living Australian recipient

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30 August - Keith Payne, last living Australian recipient

Unread postby Max ADU » Fri Aug 30, 2013 4:06 pm

Australian Birthday Today
30th August.

Keith Payne VC, OAM is an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest decoration for gallantry "in the face of the enemy".

Payne's VC was awarded
due to his actions during the Vietnam War and is the last living Australian recipient of the original "imperial" Victoria Cross.

In the early years
Keith Payne was born at Ingham, Queensland, on 30 August 1933 and attended Ingham State School till later became an apprentice cabinet-maker.

Unhappy being a tradesman, Keith joined the Australian Army in August 1951 and served in the Korean War between April 1952 and March 1953 where he was posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.

A year later Keith married Florence Plaw, a member of the Women's Royal Australian Army Corps, in December 1954

The Vietnam Conflct
In May 1969 he was commanding the 212th Company of the 1st Mobile Strike Force Battalion when it was attacked by a strong North Vietnamese force.

His company was isolated and, surrounded on three sides. Payne's Vietnamese troops began to fall back. under heavy fire and wounded in the hands and arms Keith covered the withdrawal.

WO2 Keith Payne spent three hours scouring the scene of the day's fight for isolated and wounded soldiers. While evading the enemy that continued firing at him.

Keith found some forty wounded men, bring back some of the wounded himself and organised the rescue of the others, leading the party back to base through enemy dominated terrain.

Evacuated and recognised.
Payne's actions that night
earned him the Victoria Cross, which was gazetted on 19 September 1969.

Later that month Keith was evacuated to Brisbane in September suffering from an illness to a warm reception at the airport before entering hospital.

Payne received his VC from the Queen aboard the Royal Yacht, Britannia, in Brisbane.

He also received
  • Victoria Cross
  • Medal of the Order of Australia
  • Distinguished Service Cross (US)
  • Silver Star (US)
  • Cross of Gallantry (Vietnam)

Life goes on
Keith Was made a Freeman of the city and of the shire at Ingham, Queensland also a park in Stafford, Brisbane, where Payne lived was named after him.

In January 1970 Payne was posted to the Royal Military College Duntroon as an instructor.

Payne and his wife raised five sons and are now living in Mackay, Queensland. n September 2012 he became a Patron of the Victoria Cross Trust.
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