Herbert Earley MID
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)
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.
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 &
Alexander M. Palmer.