KEITH PAYNE

Australian Geographic - - Wild Australia -

Born: 30 Au­gust 1933, Ing­ham, QLD Rank: War­rant Of­fi­cer Class II Unit: Aus­tralian Army Train­ing Team Cam­paign: Viet­nam

PAYNE WAS LEAD­ING a com­pany of indige­nous Mon­tag­nard sol­diers with a team of Amer­i­can ad­vis­ers near Ben Het Camp (a US Spe­cial Forces base in the Cen­tral High­lands of Viet­nam) when they came un­der heavy at­tack from North Viet­namese troops. Some of Payne’s men were killed and wounded, oth­ers fled in panic. De­spite be­ing wounded, Payne searched for sur­vivors left be­hind in en­emy-held ter­ri­tory. He found about 40 and led them to safety. Now aged 85, he is Aus­tralia’s last sur­viv­ing re­cip­i­ent of the Vic­to­ria Cross awarded un­der the Im­pe­rial Hon­ours and Awards sys­tem.

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