Keith Payne VC AM at Ipswich's Korean Veteran's Day service.
Keith Payne VC AM at Ipswich's Korean Veteran's Day service.

War hero remembers the ‘forgotten’ war

AS Korean veterans and local dignitaries gathered to commemorate the fallen, war hero and Victoria Cross recipient Keith Payne VC AM cast his mind back to the cold winter nights of the Korean War.

Mr Payne attended a special service in Ipswich on Monday morning and said he was pleased to see the faces of the veterans who are still standing.

“It’s great to see all our old mates. Saddest part of it, of course, is all the years that have gone by and all of those that were in their 20s and 30s aren’t here anymore,” he said.

“What you see here today is probably what’s left.”

Keith Payne OAM, VC Medal of the Order of Australia, Victoria Cross (1969)
Keith Payne OAM, VC Medal of the Order of Australia, Victoria Cross (1969)

More than 17,000 Australians fought to defend South Korea against invading forces from North Korea and China between 1950 and 1953.

It is often referred to as the forgotten war, as it occurred between the Second World War and the Vietnam War.

Personnel from the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Air Force, and the Australian Regular Army, were committed soon after the war began and would serve for the next three years in the defence of South Korea.

An agreement for an Armistice was reached on 19 July 1953 between the UN and communist forces and the date for the signing was set for 27 July 1953.

Keith Payne worked as a cabinet maker before enlisting in the Australian Army in 1951 and served in the 1st Battalion in Korea.

He went on to serve in Malaya and Papua New Guinea before his tour in Vietnam in 1969.

He is now Australia’s oldest living Victoria Cross recipient.

WARRANT OFFICER 2 K. PAYNE RECEIVING THE VICTORIA CROSS FROM HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II
WARRANT OFFICER 2 K. PAYNE RECEIVING THE VICTORIA CROSS FROM HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II

Mr Payne was presented with the medal by Queen Elizabeth II in 1970, to honour his efforts during the Battle of Ben Het in the Vietnam War.

Injured and under fire, the Warrant Officer rescued 40 soldiers, despite being surrounded by enemy troops.

He risked his life spending several hours searching the battlefield for wounded soldiers.

Take a look at the photos from Monday’s service here.



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