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David Herbert Earley MID

161 (Indep) Recce Flt 28 Oct 69 - 29 Oct 70 

  Second Lieutenant David Herbert Earley graduated from the Officer Training Unit on 23 December 1966 to complete helicopter training at the 1st Aviation Regiment. He arrived in South Vietnam on 29 October 1969 on appointment as a rotary wing pilot in the 161st (Independent) Reconnaissance Flight.

On 22 June 1970, A Company, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (ANZAC) located in the Nui Dinh mountains, requested a casualty evacuation helicopter to lift out a soldier seriously ill from a suspected snake bite. Due to adverse weather conditions of low cloud, thunderstorm activity and reduced visibility the evacuation helicopter, despite several attempts, was unable to locate the landing zone and returned to base.

Second Lieutenant Earley, flying a Sioux helicopter in direct support of the battalion, monitored the request for assistance and when it became obvious that the medical evacuation mission had been called off, he offered to attempt the task. In failing light and in almost nil visibility, Second Lieutenant Earley hovered his aircraft up the mountainside towards the landing zone, guided only by radio instructions based on aircraft noise.

The landing zone securing party did not see the aircraft until it was actually hovering over the pad. After taking the patient on board, Second Lieutenant Earley manoeuvred his aircraft out of this mountainous area, flying purely on instruments, until he calculated it would be safe to descend into a known clear area. He then continued the evacuation flight to Nui Dat.

His skilful flying, personal courage and disregard for his own personal safety were an inspiration to the other pilots in the unit. During his tour in Vietnam, Second Lieutenant Earley flew in excess of one thousand hours in support of ground forces. His conduct throughout his tour of duty reflects great credit upon himself, his Regiment and the Australian Army.

* Text of citation has been copied from the book "Vietnam Veterans Honours & Awards Army"      

 by Alexander M. Palmer.

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