Overdue honour for Vietnam veterans

Long overdue: "It is good to get some recognition for what we did," said Vietnam veteran Kevin Kelly pictured at the Penshurst Memorial. Picture: Chris Lane
Long overdue: "It is good to get some recognition for what we did," said Vietnam veteran Kevin Kelly pictured at the Penshurst Memorial. Picture: Chris Lane
The Palm Unit Citation

The Palm Unit Citation

Vietnam veteran Kevin Kelly will finally wear a long-overdue honour this Remembrance Day.

Mr Kelly, 69, will be wearing the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Palm Unit Citation for his service in Vietnam when he attends the Remembrance Day service at Penshurst Memorial next Monday.

He has waited more than 40 years to be able to wear the honour which was awarded to Australian Defence Force Members by the former Government of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) in recognition of individual acts of gallantry.

Mr Kelly received the citation for his service as a Leading Aircraftman in 9 Squadron RAAF in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970.

Aged 19, he was a crewman/gunner on Iroquois helicopters in support of Australian ground forces.

Australian Defence Force members who served during the Vietnam War who were recognised by the Republic of Vietnam included Navy Clearance Divers and 9 Squadron personnel.

"The citation was originally awarded to 9 Squadron crew in 1975," Mr Kelly said.

"But individuals were not able to wear the Citation until they had been formally approved to do so by the Australian Government.

"In 2018 then-Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove formally approved that the Citation could be worn by eligible service personnel.

"But he didn't allow the medal (Cross of Gallantry) to be worn."

Mr Kelly said his tour of duty in Vietnam was arduous and dangerous.

9 Squadron was based at Vung Tau providing troop-lift capacity for the 1st Australian Task Force and resupplying the troops in the field.

"We would work from 4am to 8pm and then we were still on call," he said.

"If the army got into trouble we were sent in to get them out."

This will be the first Remembrance Day that he will wear the Citation recognising his service in Vietnam.

"It is good to get some recognition for what we did," he said.

  • Penshurst RSL Sub-branch will hold a Remembrance Day wreath laying ceremony at the Penshurst Memorial in Bridge Street, at 11am on Monday, November 11.