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Bevan John Smith MID

161 (Indep) Recce Flt 14 Sep 65 - 19 Apr 66 

  Captain Bevan John Smith enlisted in the Australian Regular Army on 17 October 1950 and served in a variety of postings until commissioned into the Australian Staff Corps as a Lieutenant on 27 October 1961.

After attending a helicopter instructors course in the United States of America, he was posted to 16 Army Light Aircraft Squadron as a helicopter instructor. Captain Smith was posted to 161 Reconnaissance Flight in Vietnam in September 1965.

During a clearing operation with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment on 2 April 1966, Captain Smith, with the Commanding Officer of the First Battalion as passenger was to carry out route reconnaissance ahead of the armoured and infantry column moving to seize an airfield. Previous reconnaissance had revealed heavily bunkered and fortified positions extending along the route. In order to obtain reasonable protection from the enemy ground-fire and to observe into the rubber, Captain Smith was required to operate at low level.

As a result of Captain Smith's skilful flying and keen observation, several likely trouble spots were detected and reported. At approximately 0845 hours whilst approaching Binh Ba airfield, a known Viet Cong location, the helicopter came under heavy small arms fire as a result of which Captain Smith's left hand was smashed by a bullet. Despite the very low altitude and intense pain, Captain Smith took immediate and effective evasive action and with the assistance of Lieutenant Colonel Preece, headed to a Vietnamese Army post approximately two and one half miles north.

Fighting strongly against pain and handicapped by the loss of the use of his left hand, he displayed magnificent ability as a pilot by landing safely with the minimum assistance of his passenger who had no knowledge of flying. Immediately on touchdown, Captain Smith collapsed from the effects of his injury.

The outstanding courage, devotion to duty and superb flying ability displayed by Captain Smith were typical of his performance since arrival in Vietnam and were responsible in this instance for saving the life of the Commanding Officer of the First Battalion and recovering the helicopter intact. His actions were in the finest traditions of the Australian Army.

* Text of citation has been copied from the original recommendation for " Honours & Awards" dated 16 May 1966.

Please Note:

On 3rd June 1998, a Vietnam “End of War List” was announced by the Australian Government , in that “End of War List” Bevan Smith was awarded the Medal For Gallantry.  

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