Victoria Cross recipient Keith Payne.
Victoria Cross recipient Keith Payne.

Victoria Cross winner to speak

VICTORIA Cross recipient and Vietnam veteran Keith Payne will be the special guest at a formal dinner hosted by the Urbenville RSL Sub-Branch next month.

The dinner will be held at the Urbenville District Bowling Club on Saturday, November 27, and is open to the community.

Mr Payne, who lives in Mackay, is expected to talk about his time in the defence force and his work counselling soldiers with post-traumatic stress syndrome who have returned from active service overseas.

“The sub-branch generally holds a social event at the end of the year so members can get together and we also invite the community to show our appreciation for the support we receive throughout the year,” Urbenville sub-branch president Robert Clark said.

“By having such a distinguished returned serviceman come along to the dinner, we're hoping it will also lift the profile of our sub-branch.” Mr Payne, 77, served in Korea, Malaya and New Guinea before being posted to Vietnam.

In 1969 he was commanding the 212th Company of the 1st Mobile Strike Force Battalion when it was attacked by a North Vietnamese force.

His company was isolated and surrounded on three sides and Mr Payne's Vietnamese troops fell back.

Mr 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 the enemy who kept up regular fire.

He found 40 wounded men, brought some in himself and organised the rescue of the others, leading the party back to base through enemy-dominated terrain.

His actions that night earned him the Victoria Cross.

He received the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star from the United States and the Republic of Vietnam awarded Mr Payne the Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star. He retired from the army in 1975 but saw further action as a captain with the Army of the Sultan of Oman.

Anyone interested in attending the sub-branch dinner should contact the branch secretary, Phillip Walker, on 6635 1478 or Robert Clark on 6634 1338 to book a ticket. Cost: $25.



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