The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4717546) Private Errol Wayne Noack, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam

Place Asia: Vietnam, Phuoc Tuy Province, Nui Dat
Accession Number PAFU2015/053.01
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 13 February 2015
Access Open
Conflict Vietnam, 1962-1975
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (4717546) Private Errol Wayne Noack, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam.

Film order form
Speech transcript

4717546 Private Errol Wayne Noack, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
DOW 24 May 1966
Photograph: P04010.002
Story delivered 13 February 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Errol Wayne Noack.

Errol Noack was born in Adelaide on 28 March 1945 to Walter and Dorothy Noack. When he was still an infant his mother left the family, leaving Walter to bring up his son. Aside from a brief period where he lived with his aunt and uncle, Errol grew up with his father.

Errol was brought up in the Lutheran faith. As he grew up he joined the staff of his local Sunday school and participated in many of the youth activities. He attended Concordia College at Highgate and gained his intermediate certificate in 1963. After school he worked as a driver at the SAFCOL cannery in Port Lincoln. He moved to Adelaide and briefly worked for Myer before returning home to work with his father as a fisherman.

Errol and Walter had been working together only four months when Errol’s draft papers arrived. Noack told his local pastor and friend, G.E. Fischer: “I don’t want to go to war but I must obey the call to duty. I will go and do my best.”

Even so, Noack didn’t take to soldiering easily. After his enlistment on 1 July 1965 he was sent to the 2nd Recruit Training Battalion at Puckapunyal, Victoria, for basic training. He had several disciplinary infractions, but was rated a competent soldier. His mates gave him the nickname “Flex”, referencing his large biceps.

He was posted to the newly raised 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, and was allotted to 5 Platoon, B Company. Owing to his height of six-foot-one, he was given the role of section machine-gunner. Further training followed, including at Canungra, where the men learned about operating in a jungle environment.

For his final leave Noack stayed with his father in their caravan at Port Lincoln, taking a final swim at nearby Kirton Point before driving to Adelaide. Here Noack took Holy Communion at the family’s church before being taken to the airport.

In May Noack was flown to Vietnam with a number of his comrades. There he took part in several patrols and training exercises. On 24 May 5RAR was taken by helicopter from Vung Tau to a landing zone near Nui Dat. The battalion’s A and B Companies were tasked with clearing to the north and north-east of where a future Australian base was to be built.

Shortly before 6.30 pm Noack was part of a listening post sent forward to check for enemy troops when it came under fire from the front. Initially going to ground, Noack stood up to move positions and was immediately shot in the abdomen. Though his wound did not look serious, Noack knew he was dying and told his friend, “I’ve had it.” A medevac helicopter was called for and Noack was flown to hospital at Vung Tau, where he died shortly after arrival.

It was quickly realised that both companies had, unbeknownst to each other, approached the same creek junction from opposite directions, and A Company had fired on the B Company listening post. It was a terrible shock to all the men of 5RAR and an awful introduction to war. Private Errol Noack became the first National Serviceman to die in Vietnam. He was 21 years old.

Noack’s body was returned to Australia for burial, and was given a funeral with full military honours. The service took place at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Adelaide, where he had been confirmed and had spent time as a youth leader. The grounds were packed with people paying respects, as was the road to Centennial Park Cemetery, where he was laid to rest.

Noack’s father never recovered from the death of his only child and best friend. He passed away in 1996.

Noack’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with more than 500 others from the Vietnam War, and his photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Errol Wayne Noack, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

“Personal eyewitness accounts of Private Errol Noack’s wounding”:

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

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