Keith Payne Earns the Highest Gallantry Award for An Australian – Heroes of Vietnam

Most people remember the war in Vietnam as one that was fought mainly by the Americans. The truth is that several other countries fought by the side of the Americans when they won the war. For well over a decade, the Australian Armed Forced worked with the South Vietnamese men to train and get them ready for war. Out of all the men who served from Australia, only a select few were awarded the highest award for gallantry. The award is the Victoria Cross award, given only to those who demonstrated remarkable efforts in the war.

War to War, Powering On

Being in the military was one of the most prestigious accomplishments in Keith Payne’s family. He was destined to be excellent army personnel from a young age. Hailing from the warm tropical climates of Queensland, Keith was born on August 30th, 1933. He was part of the 31st Battalion of the Australian army at a very young age when he enlisted. As a young man, he was made the apprentice in the workshop of a cabinet maker, which Payne did not enjoy very much. With adventure coursing through his veins, he joined the Australian Regular Army and gave up his stint at the Citizen Military Force.

The adventure of his life and his destiny began when he made the switch. The comrade was part of the 1st battalion who was assigned to the Korean conflict. As history has it, Payne found his real passion and knew he was destined to be a part of the armed forces. He chose a spouse from the Women’s Royal Australian Army and upped his educational front to help him climb the ranks of his service. In 1969, Payne was in the Australian Army Training team in Vietnam as a Warrant Officer Class 2. The position was a famed one, and Payne loved everything that the job entitled. What started as a 30-member team, grew to a whopping 200 member unit at the end of 1969. His efforts in providing training when the battle was in full force, helped him earn recognition in history.

Team Spirit

Payne was made leader and commander of the 212th Company who fount in the central highlands of Vietnam. His men were attacked severely at the location, and the result was devastating. The assault was unbearable, and his team began to fall back in vain. Even Payne was not left unscathed by the attack. As a true leader, even with battle wounds fresh in his arms and hands, he fought bravely for his men and helped them withdraw. After the team retired, his work was not done, he helped them organize the defensive line and help the men who were wounded and left behind. The act was one of inexplicable gallantry where he saved over 40 men in spite of the heavy firing and strong enemy presence. Payne recalls his work as being one that instilled immense fear, but he knew what had to be done. The award presented to him and his continued efforts during the Dhofar War makes him one of the most celebrated war heroes hailing from Australia.