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Michael John Sonneveld DFC

161 (Indep) Recce Flt 29 Oct 70 - 28 Oct 71

  Second Lieutenant John Sonneveld graduated from Officer Training Unit on 11 October 1968, and subsequently qualified as an Army pilot at 1st Aviation Regiment. He was posted to 161st (Independent) Reconnaissance Flight as a helicopter pilot, arriving in South Vietnam on 1 November 1970.

On 21 September 1971, the 4th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, was involved in a number of heavy contacts with the enemy in the area east of Route 2 in the northern half of Phuoc Tuy Province. For over eleven hours that day, Second Lieutenant Sonneveld, who was tasked as direct support pilot to the Battalion, flew his unarmed Kiowa helicopter at low level over the contact area continually exposing himself to enemy fire.

At no time was he deterred from his task of providing every possible assistance to the troops on the ground. On numerous occasions he delivered urgently required ammunition to the troops in contact, knowing very well that other aircraft operating over the contact area had already received hits from enemy small arms fire. When it became obvious that a large enemy force was involved, he skilfully conducted reconnaissance at tree top height to locate the enemy and guide our own troops to their positions.

The quiet determination, courage and skill shown on this day were always evident in the eleven hundred hours of operational flying carried out by Second Lieutenant Sonneveld in support of the ground forces. His conduct and unassuming manner have been an inspiration to other unit pilots and reflect great credit upon himself, his Corps and the Australian Army.

* Text of citation has been copied from the original recommendation for " Honours & Awards" dated 15 November 1971.

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