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Seventeen RAAF men get awards for service in Vietnam



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MINISTERIAL PRESS RELEASE

MONDAY 17th JUNE. 1968 ■ RAAP PR 34210/68

NOT FOR RELEASE BEFORE 0001 HOURS (EST) ON MONDAY 17TH JUNE. 1968

STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE GORDON FREETH. MP. MINISTER FOR AIR

SEVENTEEN RAAF MEN GET AWARDS FOR SERVICE IN VIETNAM

Seventeen members of the RAAF have been decorated for.service

in Vietnam, the Minister for Air, Mr. Gordon Freeth, announced today.

The awards include a Distinguished Service Order to the late

Wing Commander Anthony Watcyn Powell, a Vietnam veteran who died recently

from the effects of injuries received in a car accident near Williamtown, NSW.

A Conspicuous Gallantry Medal has also been awarded to Corporal

John Desmond Goughian, a former helicopter crewman with No 9 Squadron in

Vietnam. The Conspicuous Gallanety Medal is the highest flying award, other

than the VC, available for non-commissioned members of the RAAF. This Medal

is the first to be awarded to an. RAAF man since World War 11. The other Air

Force awards are two Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bar to a Distinguished

Flying Cross and twelve Mention In Despatches.

The complete list is!-Wing Commander A.W. Powell (deceased formerly of Elsternwick, Victoria, and RAAF Base, Williamtown, N S W .................... (DSC)

Wing Commander V.J. Hill, DFC AFC, of Lyneham, ACT, and formerly of Nedlands, WA, and Malvern, V i c t o r i a ................ (Bar to DFC)

Squadron Leader A.J. Fookes, of RAAF Base, Williamtown, NSW and formerly of Camberwell, Victoria ................................ (DFC)

Squadron Leader J.H. Cox, of RAAF Base, Fairbaim, ACT, and formerly of Taree, N S W ............ ................ ............ (DFC)

Corporal J.D. Goughian, of Amberley, Qld, and formerly of Mawson, ACT and Amcliffe, Sydney NSW ............................ .(CGM)

Wing Commander H.A. Hughes, DFC, of Amberley, Qld, and formerly of Junee, N S W .......................................... (Mention In Despatches)

Squadron Leader J.I. Thomson, of Ipswich, Qld, and formerly of Moe, V i c t o r i a..... ...................................... (Mention In Despatches)

Squadron Leader T=D. Wright, of Amberley, Qld, and formerly of Kogarah, NSW ................. ........... ........... (Mention In Despatches)

Squadron Leader B. Squires, of Braddon, ACT, and formerly of Wollongong, N S W .... ...... .......................... (Mention In Despatches)

Squadron Leader J.M. Chesterfield, of Hackett, ACT, and formerly of Chatswood, Sydney NSW ....... .................. . (Mention In Despatches)

Flight Lieutenant L.W. Morris, of Campbell, ACT, and formerly of Burwood and Croydon Park, Sydney NSW .......... (Mention In Despatches)

Flight Lieutenant M.R. Lewino, of Caulfield, Melbourne, and formerly of East Fremantle, WA .............................. .... (Mention In Despatches)

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Flight Lieutenant J.A. Pedrina, of Richmond, NSW, and formerly of Hamilton, Victoria ................................ .. (Mention In Despatches)

Flying Officer W.S. McAlister of Richmond, NSW, and formerly of Cairns, Q l d .............................. .......... (Mention In Despatches)

Corporal S.H. Bonett, of West Pennant Hills, NSW, and formerly of St. Leonards, Sydney NSW ......... ................ (Mention In Desptaches)

Corporal R-C. Orchard, of Salisbury, Qld, and formerly of Miles and Gayndah, Q l d ........................................(Mention In Despatches)

Corporal G.M. Aleckson, of Laverton, Victoria, and formerly of Ballina, N S W .............................. ......... (Mention In Despatches)

Wing Commander Anthony Watcyn Powell (deceased). Recently completed an .

operational tour in Vietnam flying 700 operational hours in light

observation aircraft. During this period he controlled some 170 air

strikes as the Forward Air Controller, and flew a further 200 sorties on

visual reconnaissance and associated FAC duties. When No. 2 Canberra

Bomber Squadron, RAAF, deployed to Vietnam in April, 1967, he was Deputy

Director of USAF Direct Air Support Centre Alpha and, in conjunction with

Commander V.J. Hill, of No. 2 Squadron, began working on a system to enable

Canberra aircraft to be effectively employed in daylight, under FAC control,

against many of the important but hard to identify enemy targets available.

Later in his tour, when commander of the USAF Tactical Air Control Party

supporting the Australian Task Force, he carried on developing this system

which has now been accepted as standard operating procedure throughout

the United States 7th Air Force, and has permitted full use to be made

in Vietnam of the Canberra aircraft's bombing capability. During the

second half of his tour, Wing Commander Powell, entirely of his own

initiative, provided a complete analysis of the actual points of

impact of all bombs dropped by radar control in his area of responsibility.

His efforts have ensured that air power has provided the Army in Vietnam

with support of the highest possible order.

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NOTE: Wing Commander Powell's award was approved by the Governor-General prior to his death. The award is not, therefore, a posthumous one.

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Corporal John Desmond Coughlan, recently completed an operational tour in

Vietnam as a helicopter crewman with No. 9 Squadron, RAAF. In October,

1967, he was a crewman on a helicopter which responded to the emergency

call of a United States Army helicopter gunship which had crashed in dense

jungle deep in known enemy territory. On arrival, at the crash site, the

wreckage was seen to be burning fiercely. Corporal Goughian immediately

volunteered to be winched down to search for and assist survivors with the

knowledge that the crashed aircraft would almost certainly attract the

attention of the enemy within a short time. Aided by a slightly injured

crewman from the crashed helicopter, he located and prepared the three

most seriously injured survivors for winch evacuation. When their evacuation

was complete, he remained on the ground to search for the remaining survivors

who had wandered off in a dazed condition. After locating them, he

prepared them for winch evacuation by other helicopters which by then had

reached the scene. Throughout this entire period, Corporal Coughlan was

also faced with the continual hazard of exploding ammunition and rockets

from the burning gunship. He was frequently forced to take cover as rounds

struck trees in his vicinity. . '

In January, 1968, he was the winch operator on a helicopter engaged in the

night rescue of the crew and patients of a crashed United States medical

evacuation helicopter. The crashed helicopter had been evacuating wounded

from an Army company which was in contact with enemy forces. The enemy

forces continued firing during the period that the Australian helicopter

was engaged in rescue operations. In order to carry out the rescue, the .

helicopter was required to hover at tree-top level, with its landing light

on, for a prolonged period. While the hover was in progress, it was

necessary for Corporal Coughlan to lean well out of the helicopter and issue

instructions to the pilot. He did this calmly and coolly, maintaining a

flow of clear and concise calls without which the pilot would have been

unable to maintain the precise hover required during the whole of the

operation. Throughout this time he knew full well that he was the most

exposed and obvious target for enemy fire, but this did not deter him.

NOTEs The CGM was instituted in 1943· A total of 91 of these medals

have been awarded to members of the RAF, and 10 to the RAAF. The CGM is

awarded for acts of conspicuous gallantry and while flying on active

operations against the enemy.

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Wing Commander Vincent Jerome Hill during his operational tour of duty

with No 2 Canberra Bomber Squadron, RAAF, was responsible for the direction

and implementation of the unit's flying operations. This task demanded long

vigilant periods of duty over the whole of his tour. However, his complete

devotion to the Squadron's primary task, that of air strikes in Vietnam,

was outstanding. ·

The citation for a Bar to his DEC said, in part, that Wing Commander Hill

had set the highest possible example of leadership and skill in the air on

all operations. His example and zest in all weathers, by day and by night,

inspired all aircrews to reach and maintain an excellent flying record, and

exhibit an extraordinary high standard of operational discipline, courage

and determination. Furthermore, he was responsible for the development of

special tactics to enable the Canberra aircraft to operate on certain visual

air strikes by day, thereby extending the Squadron's operational capability.

Squadron Leader Anthony John Fookes assumed command of No 35 Caribou

Transport Squadron, at Vung Tau, South Vietnam, in February, 1967· During

the ensuing 12 months he flew Caribou aircraft on 1127 operational sorties,

accruing 748 flying hours.

The citation for his DFC said, in part, that he displayed exceptional skill

and courage in completing many of the missions that he undertook. Ks

accomplished tasks through tropical storms over treacherous mountain terrain

to get vital stores to forward airfields. These airfields, with no navigation

aids or air traffic control, were minimum length and width for Caribou aircraft,

demanding the finest judgment on the part of the aircraft captain. Frequently,

enemy fire was encountered when approaching and departing these airfields. In

March, 1967, Squadron Leader Fookes, as captain of a Caribou, undertook a |

dangerous and unique operation against enemy ground forces in Phuoc Tuy .

Province, South Vietnam. The mission involved pinpoint accuracy in the

dropping of highly inflammable drums of petrol on to known enemy positions. He

made repeated low level runs over the heavily defended area under the constant

threat of ground fire, made all the more hazardous by the dangerous nature of

the petrol drums carried in the aircraft. His citation addss "As Commanding

Officer of No 35 Squadron, Squadron Leader Fookes was a great inspiration to

his officers and airmen.

Squadron Leader James Henry Cox as a flight commander with No 9 Squadron in

Vietnam, flew over 450 hours in Iroquois helicopters. The citation for his DFC

said that during this time he showed complete disregard for his own safety in

order to perform life-saving missions. He took part in many extractions of

Army patrols which were pinned down by enemy fire, and whose situation was .

desperate. On these occasions, his coolness under fire, flying skill and

leadership of squadron crews were instrumental in the saving of lives which

would otherwise have been forfeited. .

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MENTION IN DESPATCHES

Wing Commander Henry Alfred Hughes was in charge of flying operations of

No 2 Canberra Bomber Squadron in South Vietnam from October, 1967, till

January, 1968, flying over 50 operational sorties. During his tour, the

. Squadron expanded its operational activities to include daylight visual

bombing as well as maintaining the night skyshot bombing role it had

previously been engaged on exclusively. Wing Commander Hughes developed

tactics that were most suitable in the squadron's new role, and by constant

supervision and the exemplary example of his own flying, brought the squadron

to an efficiency and accuracy in bombing of a very high standard.■

Squadron Leader John Irvine Thomson was posted to No 2 Canberra bomber

squadron in April, 19&7> and subsequently completed an outstanding tour of

night bomber operations. He flew 112 missions against.Viet Cong targets. On

the night of 25th July, 1967» while attacking an enemy position under radar

control, the bombing system on his Canberra became inoperative. Undeterred,

and although in heavy cloud, he traced and overcame the problem and successfully

completed the attack. This demanded very special effort and skill to maintain

precise instrument flight during the attack, and to ensure full safety measures.

His citation.said that No 2 Squadron's accident free record in Vietnam is in

large measure due to his constant vigilance and supervision of flying procedures.

Squadron Leader Thomas Dunning Wright, a RAAF navigator, completed a most

creditable ,tour of bombing operations with No 2 Squadron in Vietnam. He held

the appointment of squadron navigation leader, and was responsible for

developing and refining new navigation and bombing procedures to spit the

operational role in Vietnam. In particular he devised a technique for

monitoring the accuracy of the ground radar used for night bombing so as to

preclude any possibility of attacking friendly positions. His MID citation

said that he had shown a very high level of leadership, devotion to duty

and personal excellence as a navigator and bomb aimer.

Squadron Leader Barry Squires completed over 100 bombing missions as a pilot

with No 2 Canberra Bomber Squadron in Vietnam. His MID citation said that he

is a most meticulous and capable bomber pilot who has shown outstanding

determination in night operations. Just before midnight on 21st July, 1967

while attempting to attack two targets close to Saigon, his aircraft became

trapped by encircling thunderstorms. With great presence of mind he selected the

least dangerous path through cloud and violent turbulence, but the aircraft

cabin was severely struck by lightning, and one radio, was burnt out. Undeterred,

he then requested other targets and successfully attacked two Viet Cong

positions. .

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s^nnrirnn Leader John Maxwell Chesterfield in 19^7 preceeded to No 2 Canberra

Bomber Squadron in Vietnam and established all base support facilities to the

extent that the Squadron was able to commence bombing operations within a few

days of deployment to Vietnam. The citation for his ICED said that he never

ceased to drive for improvement in all sections of the Squadron's base support

organisation. Above all else, he placed the Squadron's well-being to the

forefront. During his tour in Vietnam, he was the initiator and architect of

nearly all support projects peculiar to the Squadron at Phan Rang Air Base.

Some of these projects demanded close co-operation with USAF agencies, and in

• this respect his tact and ability were exemplary.

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Flight Lieutenant Leslie Wilfred Morris completed an operational tour as a

pilot with No 9 Squadron in Vietnam. He flew over 650 hours in Iroquois

helicopters. His MID citation said that throughout his tour he demonstrated an

outstanding sense of purpose, and devotion to duty which inspired his fellow

aircrew and subordinates to maintain high standards of operational achievement

and endeavour. He also proved himself to be an extremely capable helicopter ·

pilot, ready and willing to undertake the most hazardous operations, which he

flew in a most accomplished manner.

His citation said that he displayed gallantry in the face of the enemy, and

qualities of leadership on the ground and in the air in the best traditions of

the RAAF. ·

Flight Lieutenant Michael Raymond Lewi.no was posted to Vietnam as a captain of

a Caribou aircraft of No 35 Squadron in August, 1966. During his tour he flew

over 1200 hours on operational sorties, displaying untiring loyalty and devotion

to duty. The citation for his MID said that he carried out his duties as a

Caribou check captain in a most creditable manner and, in all phases of his

operational flying, showed an aggressive determination to successfully complete

all missions. On several occasions during his tour, he came under ground fire

from hostile forces, and in each case his determination and devotion to duty

were outstanding, and the missions were successfully completed.

Flight Lieutenant Jeffrey Allan Pedrina. a Caribou transport pilot with No 35

Squadron, flew over 1150 hours during his operational tour of duty in South

Vietnam. Throughout his tour he displayed superior qualities of loyalty and

devotion to duty. In his capacity as a check captain on Caribou aircraft, he

displayed qualities of leadership that were outstanding and greatly benefitted

younger and less experienced pilots in the squadron. In all phases of his ,

operational flying, his citation said, he showed aggressiveness and determination

of a very high order which resulted in the completion of many hazardous missions

under conditions which would have deterred others. 1

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Flying Officer William Stewart McAlister» Throughout his tour of duty as a

Caribou pilot in Vietnam, he showed aggressive determination to complete all

missions, despite adverse weather conditions and the threat of enemy ground

fire. The citation for his MID said that he displayed superior skill and courage

on numerous occasions when called upon to operate his aircraft into very '

.short and often hazardous airstrips to deliver urgently needed ammunition,

food and medical supplies to small outposts in enemy infested areas.

Corporal Stewart Hampton Bonett was posted to No 35 Squadron^ South Vietnam,

as a loadmaster on Caribou aircraft in October, 1966.

During his tour of duty, he,showed an outstanding knowledge of the technical-

aspects of the Caribou aircraft, and his handling of aircraft loading, unloading

and documentation were always of the highest order. The citation for his MID

said that on many occasions, his technical knowledge and ability to improvise

enabled him to effect repairs to aircraft at isolated and insecure airfields,

while working under the threat of enemy attack and in the most primitive of

conditions.

Corporal Ronald Cecil Orchard was posted to Base Support Flight, South Vietnam,

in October, 1966. As a mechanical transport fitter he was in charge of all ·

installation and maintenance of electrical generating equipment and

refrigeration units of Base Support Flight, South Vietnam. Working mainly in

the open, exposed to trying tropical conditions of heat and dust and sometimes

in pouring rain, he was further handicapped by lack of proper maintenance

facilities. By improvisation, determination and working extremely long hours

he overcame the difficulties of his situation to ensure the continued .

refrigeration of vital food supplies and the generation of power.

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Corporal Gregory Michael Aleckson recently completed a tour as medical orderly

with Base Support Flight in South Vietnam. During this period he volunteered

to fly missions in No 9 Squadron helicopter aircraft engaged in the medical

evacuation of wounded in the field. In this capacity he flew a total of 219

sorties, the majority being at night. Many of these missions involved the

recovery of wounded from areas under the threat of enemy attack. The citation

for his MID said that by his action in flying to aid the sick and wounded he

had displayed resolution and courage of the highest order.

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Enquiries:

Department of Air Directorate of Public Relations Russell Offices CANBERRA ACT

Telephone No - /forking Hours 652321-22-2$ After Hours 815785

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