Media Release: Wednesday 18 June 2014
Today the Australian War Memorial received the Victoria Cross and full medal group of one of our most decorated Vietnam veterans, Warrant Officer Class 2 Keith Payne VC OAM.
Mr Payne received the Victoria Cross for his courageous actions on the night of 24 May 1969 as commander of 212th Company of the 1st Mobile Strike Force Battalion.
During a strong attack from a North Vietnamese Army force, which outnumbered his company was isolated and surrounded on three sides. Under heavy fire, Payne covered the withdrawal of his troops and organised a defensive perimeter.
Although wounded, Payne scoured the scene of the battle for isolated and wounded soldiers, finding 40 wounded men, rescuing some and arranging it for others. For his valiant actions he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of Australian War Memorial, said the Memorial is deeply honoured to receive Mr Payne’s medals.
“These medals will form an integral part of the continuing story of the Australian experience of war, and are a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made in Vietnam and by Keith Payne in particular,” Dr Nelson said.
“Only four Victoria Cross medals were awarded to Australians during the Vietnam War. Keith Payne’s is the largest individual medal group of all Australian Victoria Cross recipients,” said Dr Nelson.
The Memorial has the largest public collection of Victoria Cross medals in the world, with over 70 of the 100 awarded to Australians currently on display in the Hall of Valour.
Keith Payne’s medal group will go on display in the Memorial’s Hall of Valour soon.
Erin Scott 02 6243 4575 0409 600 038 firstname.lastname@example.org
Allan Yates 02 6243 4383