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Keith Payne

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Armed force officer

Keith Payne

Years of service

Keith Payne 637558d1390896177victoriacrossrecipientkeithpayne165119keithpaynejpg

30 August 1933 (age 90) Ingham, Queensland (

Warrant Officer Class II

Korean WarMalayan EmergencyIndonesia–Malaysia confrontationVietnam WarDhofar Rebellion

Other work
Counselling sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder

Battles and wars
Korean War, Malayan Emergency

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Mr keith payne vc oam dsc ss us

Keith Payne, VC, AM (born 30 August 1933) is an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest decoration for gallantry "in the presence of the enemy" awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces. Payne's VC was awarded for his actions during the Vietnam War. Aged 84, he is the last living Australian recipient of the original "Imperial" Victoria Cross.


Keith Payne About Keith Payne

Ep. 11 Keith Payne VC AM - Part 1

Early life

Keith Payne Mr Keith Payne Donates Medals Armchair General and

Keith Payne was born at Ingham, Queensland, on 30 August 1933, the son of Romilda (Millie) Hussey and Henry Thomas Payne. He attended Ingham State School and later became an apprentice cabinet-maker. Dissatisfied with working as a tradesman, Payne joined the Australian Army in August 1951 and, after brief period in the Citizen Military Forces (CMF), was posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment in September the following year.

Military career

Keith Payne Mr Keith Payne VC OAM

Payne served with his unit in the Korean War from April 1952 to March 1953. He married Florence Plaw, a member of the Women's Royal Australian Army Corps, in December 1954, and was promoted to corporal the following year. Payne served in Malaya with this unit and in 1965, now a sergeant, he joined the 5th Battalion. In June 1965, by now a Warrant Officer Class II, Payne was a fieldcraft instructor on the staff of the Officer Training Unit, Scheyville, established to commission national servicemen. In February 1967 he was posted to Papua New Guinea where he served with the 2nd Battalion, Pacific Islands Regiment. He remained there until March 1968 when he returned to Brisbane. On 24 February 1969 he was posted to the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV).

Keith Payne Military Historical Society of Australia Queensland Branch

In May 1969 he was commanding the 212th Company of the 1st Mobile Strike Force Battalion when it was attacked by a strong North Vietnamese force near Ben Het Camp. 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 the enemy who kept up regular fire. He found some forty wounded men, brought some in himself and organised the rescue of the others, leading the party back to base through enemy dominated terrain.

Payne's actions that night earned him the Victoria Cross, which was gazetted on 19 September 1969. He was evacuated to Brisbane in September suffering from an illness, receiving a warm reception at the airport before entering hospital. In January 1970 Payne was posted to the Royal Military College, Duntroon as an instructor.

Payne received his VC from the Queen aboard the Royal Yacht, Britannia, in Brisbane on 13 April 1970. He was made a Freeman of the city and of the shire in which his hometown was located. A park in Stafford, Brisbane, (where Payne lived) was also named after him. He also received the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star from the United States of America and the Republic of Vietnam awarded Payne the Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star.

He was later posted to the 42nd Battalion, Royal Queensland Regiment. Payne subsequently retired from the Australian Army in 1975, but saw further action as a captain with the Army of the Sultan of Oman against communist forces in the Dhofar War in 1975 and 1976.

Later life

Payne joined the Legion of Frontiersmen in 1975 and holds the rank of an Honorary Chief Commissioner. After returning to Australia, he became active in the veteran community, particularly in counselling sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Payne and his wife raised five sons and live in Mackay, Queensland. He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to the veteran community in 2006, while Flo Payne was recognised with an OAM for her service to the community, particularly through surf lifesaving and veteran's families, in 2011.

Payne was interviewed for the 2006 television docudrama Victoria Cross Heroes which also included archive footage and dramatisations of his actions.

In September 2012 he became a Patron of the Victoria Cross Trust. The mental health ward at Greenslopes Private Hospital in Brisbane is named the Keith Payne Unit (KPU), in his honour.

Payne was advanced to a Member of the Order of Australia in June 2015. The award recognised his "significant service to veterans and their families as an ambassador, patron and as an advocate for veterans' health and welfare."

Unit awards


Keith Payne Wikipedia

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