The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (02771) Acting Sub Lieutenant Antony Jeffrey Huelin, Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam, Vietnam War.

Place Asia: Vietnam
Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.61
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 1 March 2020
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 Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (02771) Acting Sub Lieutenant Antony Jeffrey Huelin, Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam, Vietnam War.

Speech transcript

02771 Acting Sub Lieutenant Antony Jeffrey Huelin, Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam
(helicopter crash) 3 January 1969

Today we remember and pay tribute to Acting Sub Lieutenant Antony Jeffrey Huelin.

Known as “Tony” to his friends and family, Antony Huelin was born in East Melbourne on 26 February 1943. He joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1966 as a midshipman, and was promoted to acting sub lieutenant in 1968. He completed training as a pilot in Iroquois helicopters in 1968 with the US Navy in Florida. That year, he joined the second contingent of the Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam, which had been formed to support US and South Vietnamese ground forces.

This unit of Australian Navy aviators and support crew fully integrated into the US Army 135th Assault Helicopter Company. It was the only such integrated US–Australian unit in the Vietnam War. Known as EMU—the Experimental Military Unit—the unit took on the large flightless bird as an ironic mascot and call sign. The motto of the company also had a uniquely Australian ring to it: “Get the bloody job done”.

Pilots of the 135th Company flew US Army Iroquois “Huey” helicopters in two configurations: the gunship and the troop transport, or “slick”. Huelin flew as the pilot of a transport helicopter. He and the men of the second contingent arrived in Vietnam in September 1968. In October 1968, Huelin distinguished himself during a difficult mission in Kien Hoa province. A fellow EMU helicopter had been shot down during a troop landing mission, and Huelin braved heavy enemy fire to successfully rescue the four-man crew without taking casualties.

In November 1968, soon after the second contingent had arrived in Vietnam, the 135th Company moved to the American base “Bearcat” in Bien Hoa province. From there the unit flew troop lift, combat assault, and support missions in the Mekong Delta and nearby provinces. This included insertion and extraction of US, Australian, and South Vietnamese soldiers into and out of battle, with the helicopters and crews often coming under heavy ground fire. The long flying hours and difficult conditions also took a toll on the pilots and ground support crew.

On 3 January 1969, Huelin was the pilot of a helicopter flying from Bearcat base to the Seven Mountains area, a distance of about 225 kilometres. Despite low cloud and fog, he and the crew were determined to complete this important resupply mission. Soon after take-off, just before dawn, his helicopter hit powerlines near Saigon. He and the three American soldiers on board were killed in the crash. Huelin was 25 years old.

He is interred at Mount Thompson Memorial Gardens in Brisbane.

Acting Sub Lieutenant Antony Jeffrey Huelin is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among more than 500 Australians who died while serving in 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 Acting Sub Lieutenant Antony Jeffrey Huelin, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Thomas Rogers
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (02771) Acting Sub Lieutenant Antony Jeffrey Huelin, Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam, Vietnam War. (video)