The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (5411605) Second Lieutenant Brian Geoffrey Walker, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam

Place Asia: Vietnam, Phuoc Tuy Province, Hoa Long
Accession Number PAFU2015/225.01
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 5 June 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 Copy provided for personal non-commercial use
Description

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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (5411605) Second Lieutenant Brian Geoffrey Walker, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam.

Speech transcript

5411605 Second Lieutenant Brian Geoffrey Walker, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
Accidentally killed 9 March 1969
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 5 June 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Second Lieutenant Brian Geoffrey Walker.

Brian Walker was born on 25 November 1947 to Daisy and Eric Walker of Cottesloe, Western Australia. He was the youngest of their three children, and brother to Joy and Richard. He attended Hollywood High School, where he completed his junior certificate before going on to work as a sales clerk for Harris Scarfe and then James Hardie.

Walker’s brief time as a sales clerk was simply passing time until his application to join the army went through. Brian’s father had served in the Middle East and New Guinea during the Second World War, and his maternal grandfather had served as a major during the First World War. Brian had wanted to become a soldier from an early age. When he enlisted in the Citizen Military Forces in March 1964, he lied about his age, saying that he was born in 1946, in order to get in early. He did so with the consent of his father, and went on to serve with the CMF full-time for just over 18 months before enlisting in the regular army. He was a keen sportsman and played Australian Rules football, and would coach and captain hockey teams at Singleton and Holdsworthy.

In 1965, on his 18th birthday, Brian Walker presented to his commanding officer and owned up to his real age. He requested to be sent to Portsea Officer Cadet School, and in 1967 graduated to become the youngest officer in the Australian Army.

That year Major Eric Richardson introduced Walker to the youngest female officer cadet on base, Jennefer Walker, thinking she should meet the youngest officer in the army. They fell in love, and married the following year.

In 1968 Walker had to undergo surgery on his shoulder for an old injury. That August his daughter, Joanne, was born, and he was able to spend the six weeks of recovery at home being a proud new father.

In January 1969 Walker, by now a platoon commander in 5RAR, was sent as part of an advance party to Vietnam, before the arrival of the rest of his battalion. He and other platoon officers were inserted into platoons from 1RAR for small operations as a part of the assimilation process, and to learn from the battalion they were replacing.

In March 1969 Walker participated in an operation around the northeastern foothills of the Nui Dinh Mountains. As the operation concluded he was leading his platoon on a cordon-and-search operation around the village of Hoa Long, near Nui Dat. Shortly after one in the morning on 9 March, members of the party Walker was leading entered a minefield. Hearing a noise that sounded like a rifle bolt or safety catch, Walker suddenly dropped to his knees and fired, and in return was fired on.

Unfortunately, the noise had come from a Regional Force Company outpost, and those firing were friendly South Vietnamese troops. Several minutes elapsed before the mistake was realised, but by then it was too late. Second Lieutenant Walker had been shot and killed, and two other soldiers wounded. In the resulting confusion a trip wire was activated, and a mine detonated. Two more of Walker’s men were killed in the blast and more soldiers were wounded. It took four hours to extricate the wounded and the dead from the minefield.

The loss of an officer of Brian Walker’s calibre was a stark reminder to the men of 5RAR of just how lethal the situation in Vietnam could be. He was remembered by those who knew him as a spontaneous, gregarious, and enthusiastic officer, soldier, and friend. He was 21 years old.

Brian Walker’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among more than 500 others from the Vietnam War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Second Lieutenant Brian Geoffrey Walker, and all those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

Dr Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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