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Graeme Hill-Smith DFC

161 (Indep) Recce Flt 10 Jun 69 - 11 Jun 70

Major Graeme Hill-Smith graduated from the Officer Cadet School, Portsea, on 26th June 1954, and was allotted to the Royal Australian Artillery and later transferred to the Australian Army Aviation Corps. After a variety of training and regimental appointments in Australia and overseas, he was posted to command 161st (Independent) Reconnaissance Flight in Vietnam on 11th June 1969.

Major Hill-Smith commanded the 161st Independent Reconnaissance Flight in Vietnam with great distinction. He proved to be an outstanding pilot, unequalled in his unit in carrying out close and exacting air reconnaissance missions. He logged over 1,100 flying hours, most of them under adverse flying conditions, at low level and at great danger to himself.

On many occasions, his determination to complete a thorough reconnaissance resulted in his aircraft being fired on by the enemy, and three times he nursed a damaged helicopter back to safety after it was struck by enemy small arms fire.

On the evening of 3 May 1970, he was flying in support of 8th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, which was in contact with the enemy south-west of Dat Do. Whilst acting in spotter role for a light fire team of helicopter gun-ships, his helicopter received enemy ground fire which severely damaged the main rotor blade. By a superb display of flying skill, Major Hill-Smith flew his disabled aircraft to the Horseshoe feature and landed it safely, thus preventing its loss.

Throughout his tour, he displayed courage, determination and flying skill of the highest order. His leadership was an inspiration to the other pilots in his unit and brought great credit to his Corps and the Australian Army.

* Text of citation has been copied from the original recommendation for "Honours & Awards" dated 30 May 1970.

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