Payne VC

Mike Colman

In Vietnam in 1969 Keith Payne was leading a company of indigenous Montagnard soldiers when they were overrun by a large force of North Vietnam regulars. When the company was withdrawn many wounded were left behind and Payne, though badly wounded, returned to the battlefield four times, rescued forty stragglers and led them to safety. For this act of extreme bravery he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Returning to civilian life he struggled for ten years in a haze of alcohol and prescription drugs, a nightmare for him, his wife and five sons. He was eventually diagnosed as suffering from post traumatic stress, and for the past twenty years he has been a strong advocate for the rights of returned soldiers and their families. In 2007 he sold all of his twenty medals, including the Victoria Cross, for an undisclosed sum. This is not only the story of a brave and resilient Australian soldier, but also a reflection on the high cost and futility of war. Soft cover, photographs, 244 pages.