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John Leslie Coggan DFC

161 (Indep) Recce Flt  01 Sep 67 - 03 Sep 68

Captain John Coggan was commissioned in the Australian Regular Army on 11 December 1963. After service in the Royal Australian Artillery, he attended Flying Training School and qualified as a helicopter pilot; later he also qualified as a Fixed Wing pilot. Captain Coggan arrived in South Vietnam on 2 September 1967, as the Rotary Wing Section Commander, 161st (Independent) Reconnaissance Flight. On 25 March 1968 he was appointed Second in Command of the Flight.

In the first nine months of his tour Captain Coggan flew over one thousand hours and, by his personal example, he set a standard of leadership and bravery in the air which was an inspiration to the pilots of 161st (Independent) Reconnaissance Flight. He regularly flew all types of missions. On many of these missions he was fired upon by the enemy, but on all occasions he completed the allotted task.

On 1 February 1968, an enemy reinforced battalion attacked Phuoc Le. Whilst supporting a reaction force from 1st Australian Task Force, Captain Coggan flew visual reconnaissance missions during the day and was fired upon by the enemy on a number of occasions. At approximately 2200 hours a casualty evacuation helicopter was unable to land in the Phouc Le Market Place because of high power lines reducing the size of the landing zone. Captain Coggan volunteered to evacuate the wounded. He landed at the market place on three occasions, each time coming under fire, and completed the evacuation of the wounded.

As a result of Captain Coggan's courageous actions and exceptional professional skill, wounded Australian and Vietnamese soldiers were evacuated. It is probable that they would not have survived if they had remained in the Market Place until the following morning.

By his skill, determined leadership and willingness to support ground forces at all cost, Captain Coggan has set an outstanding example as an Army Pilot and his actions reflect credit upon himself, his unit and the Australian Army as a whole.


* Text of citation has been copied from the original recommendation for "Honours & Awards" dated 22 May 1968.

Captain John Coggan was also awarded the following Allied Medals:     

                    The Distinguished Flying Cross, (United States),

                    The Gallantry Cross, with Bronze Star, (Vietnam), and

                    The Gallantry Cross, with Gold Star, (Vietnam).

                    * Details of these awards are not available.

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