John Smith MID
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
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.
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.