May 24, 2013

Victoria Cross winner Keith Payne, OAM, will be the special guest at this year’s Vietnam Veterans’ Day service in Kingaroy.

Mr Payne received his VC – the Commonwealth’s highest honour for bravery – for his actions in Vietnam in May 1969.

Keith Payne VC, OAM
Keith Payne VC, OAM (Photo: Australian War Memorial)

From the Australian War Memorial website:

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. Payne, by now wounded in the hands and arms and under heavy fire, covered the withdrawal before organising his troops into a defensive perimeter. He then spent three hours scouring the scene of the day’s fight for isolated and wounded soldiers, all the while evading the enemy who kept up regular fire. He found some 40 wounded men, brought some in himself and organised the rescue of the others, leading the party back to base through enemy dominated terrain.”

Mr Payne was also awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2006 for his service to the community, particularly through support for youth programs and veterans groups.

He retired from the army in 1975.

Vietnam Veteran Barry Krosch, from Kingaroy, said Mr Payne would be accompanied on the visit by his wife Florence.

The Vietnam Veterans Day commemoration will be held in Memorial Park on August 18.

“He is the most decorated soldier to visit here in at least 80 years, and possibly ever,” Mr Krosch said.

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