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I met a real hero last night and got to shake his hand

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A couple of months ago my wife met Warrant Officer Class 2 (ret) Keith Payne who is a retired Australian Army WO2.  Last night I got to meet him and shake his hand and thank him for his continuing service in supporting veterans.

Keith fought in the Korean War, Malayan Emergency, Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation, Vietnam War and the Dhofar Rebellion.  As well as being awarded the Victoria Cross (Australia's highest military award) the United States awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star medal which are the 2nd and 3rd highest military awards in the US I believe.  His actions which resulted in the awarding of the Victoria Cross occurred in May 1969 while he was part of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam.  The citation reads in part: 

He was commanding the 212th Company of the 1st Mobile Strike Force Battalion when it was attacked by a strong North Vietnamese force. His company was isolated and, surrounded on three sides, Payne's Vietnamese troops began to fall back. Payne, by now wounded in the hands and arms and under heavy fire, covered the withdrawal before organising his troops into a defensive perimeter. He then spent three hours scouring the scene of the day’s fight for isolated and wounded soldiers, all the while evading enemy troops, who kept up harassing fire. He found some 40 wounded men, brought some in himself and organised for the rescue of the others, leading the party back to base through enemy-dominated terrain.

That is a very cut and dried paragraph, but when you know the whole story of what happened that day it really indicates the character of the man.  He continues supporting veterans to this day.  I am proud to have him as a member of the community.

Thank you for your service Sir.




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