Commando News Issue 13 2018

Commando News Magazine Australia

Commando News Magazine Australia


Create successful ePaper yourself

Turn your PDF publications into a flip-book with our unique Google optimized e-Paper software.


Registered by Australia Post ~ Publication No PP100016240<br />

Edition <strong>13</strong> ~ <strong>2018</strong><br />

This photo was taken in the Gulf States. The fatal jump was in 2015, a tandem jump, which Tony Rokov took the full impact<br />

thus saving the life of his 14-year-old student. He was awarded the Star of Courage for his extraordinary bravery.<br />


The Happy Wanderer<br />

Michael Parker Foundation ~ Kshamawati Hostel Project<br />

<strong>Commando</strong> Memorial Service <strong>2018</strong><br />

HALO Parachuting in Australia ~ The Early Days





LIFE PATRON: Gen Sir Phillip Bennett AC KBE DSO<br />

Message from the Editor...................................3<br />

From the Prolific Pen of Harry Bell....................5<br />

Vale section..................................................7-11<br />

HALO Parachuting in Australia<br />

“The Early Days” ...................................<strong>13</strong>-19<br />

PATRON:<br />









ACA NSW<br />


MajGen Tim McOwan AO DSC CSM<br />

MajGen Greg Melick AO RFD SC<br />

Maj Steve Pilmore OAM<br />

Maj Jack Thurgar SC MBE OAM RFD<br />

(Ret’d)<br />

Maj Bruce O’Connor OAM (Ret’d)<br />

Doug Knight<br />

Glenn MacDonald<br />

Barry Grant<br />

<strong>Commando</strong> Memorial Service<br />

Anzac Day address.....................................21<br />

Ex <strong>Commando</strong> sacrifices himself<br />

for young parachutist ................................22<br />

The Happy Wanderer................................25-27<br />

Chief of Army bans soldiers from<br />

wearing ‘arrogant’ death symbols.............29<br />

Michael Parker Foundation .............................30<br />

Book Review ....................................................35<br />

Little known facts about the wall....................37<br />

ACA NSW Bruce Poulter - 0414 891 854<br />

SECRETARY: poulstan@optusnet.com.au<br />

ACA QLD<br />

PRESIDENT: Nick Hill<br />

ACA QLD<br />

SECRETARY: Tony Mills<br />

ACA WA<br />

PRESIDENT: Alan Joyce - 0447 433 934<br />

ACA WA Paul Shearer - 0400 522 059<br />

SECRETARY: shearerp56@gmail.com<br />

PUBLIC OFFICER: Brian Liddy<br />

Aust Cdo Assn NSW “Q” Store......................41<br />

Aust Cdo Assn QLD..................................45-51<br />

Membership Application Form .......................55<br />

State Incorporated Associations.....................56<br />

Deadline for next edition (<strong>Issue</strong> 14):<br />

SUNDAY, 30 TH SEPTEMBER <strong>2018</strong><br />

All news on members and interesting articles accepted.<br />

(Subject to editors’ approval.)<br />

Barry G<br />

EDITORS:<br />

Barry Grant<br />

Barbara Pittaway<br />

The Australian <strong>Commando</strong> Association’s membership consists of<br />

Servicemen who have served with Independent Companies, <strong>Commando</strong><br />

Squadrons, "M" and "Z" Special units and Special Forces during and since<br />

the Second World War.<br />

DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed within this publication are those of the<br />

authors, and are not necessarily those of the Editor, Publisher, Committee<br />

Members or Members of our Association. We welcome any input as long<br />

as it is not offensive or abusive but if any member has a problem with a<br />

printed article we would like to be informed in order that the author may be<br />

contacted. We do encourage your opinion.<br />


Registered by Australia Post ~ Publication No PP100016240<br />

Edition <strong>13</strong> ~ <strong>2018</strong><br />

Official Publishers:<br />

Statewide Publishing P/L<br />

ABN 65 116 985 187<br />


PHONE: 0432 042 060<br />

EMAIL: russell@commandonews.com.au<br />

Printed by RABS PRINT & DESIGN<br />

Phone: 0438 881 854<br />

Email: mike@rabsprint.com.au<br />

This photo was taken in the Gulf States. The fatal jump was in 2015, a tandem jump, which Tony Rokov took the full impact<br />

thus saving the life of his 14-year-old student. He was awarded the Star of Courage for his extraordinary bravery.<br />


The Happy Wanderer<br />

Michael Parker Foundation ~ Kshamawati Hostel Project<br />

<strong>Commando</strong> Memorial Service <strong>2018</strong><br />

HALO Parachuting in Australia ~ The Early Days<br />

FRONT COVER: This photo was taken in the Gulf States.<br />

The fatal jump was in 2015, a tandem jump, which Tony<br />

Rokov took the full impact thus saving the life of his<br />

14-year-old student. He was awarded the Star of Courage<br />

for his extraordinary bravery.<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 1

2 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

Australian <strong>Commando</strong> Association<br />

NSW Inc.<br />

http://1commando1.blogspot.com.au<br />

PO Box <strong>13</strong><strong>13</strong>, Sutherland, NSW 1499<br />


1941 - 1946 1955<br />

-<br />

President: Barry Grant Secretary: Bruce Poulter Treasurer: Ivan Kelly<br />

starlightcdo@gmail.com poulstan@optusnet.com.au ikelly@bigpond.com<br />

0414 914 615 0414 891 854 0417 042 886<br />

Message from the Editor<br />

As we go to press, another Timor Awakening team<br />

is preparing to go back to Timor Leste.<br />

Among them is 94-year-old Ian Hampel, 2nd/4th<br />

Independent Company.<br />

Ian landed on East Timor as it was known during<br />

WW2, on the ill fated HMAS Voyager in the southern<br />

shores at Betano.<br />

Ian marched the full distance on Anzac Day in<br />

Sydney so there’s no doubt he can handle the trip.<br />

I have been trying to contact him for a couple of<br />

weeks, finally ringing his son to find out he is snow<br />

skiing.<br />

God bless him.<br />

★★★★★<br />

The passing of Bruce Horsfield was a sad event, he<br />

had been working on the SAS documentary DVD<br />

series for about 17 years and just a few short weeks<br />

ago was awarded an OAM for contributions to military<br />

history. He also completed another on Long Tan, also<br />

acclaimed DVD.<br />

★★★★★<br />

Wayne Havenaar (ex 1 Company) has issued a<br />

warning order for a small craft reunion paddle.<br />

It will be held in late<br />

October, paddle from<br />

Shelley Beach, Manly<br />

to Balmoral Beach to<br />

Clifton Gardens.<br />

All small craft<br />

qualified (also the non<br />

qualified who can<br />

paddle) are invited.<br />

Paddle some of the<br />

trip or all of the trip,<br />

just paddle to Clifton Gardens or just come and join<br />

the picnic at the end.<br />

More details to follow.<br />

★★★★★<br />

Just a heads up.<br />

AGM of ACA NSW will be held on Satur day, 20th<br />

October <strong>2018</strong>.<br />

More details will be sent out by email and post to<br />

financial members ASAP.<br />

★★★★★<br />

The last Reserve Forces Parade was held on 1st<br />

July after 20 years of parading.<br />

Seems it lost the interest of<br />

a lot of donors and the ADF<br />

has said that the difference<br />

between Regular Forces and<br />

the Reservists is "blurred" in<br />

the modern age.<br />

Barry Grant<br />

Australian <strong>Commando</strong><br />

Association (NSW) Inc<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 3

4 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

From the Prolific Pen of Harry Bell<br />

Dear Editors,<br />

Well, here I am sitting on my bed in Anthem<br />

Nursing Home. I came into hospital on 31/5 for hip<br />

surgery and hope to be home soon. I can’t offer a full<br />

length story but will try to do better next time when I<br />

have access to my library.<br />

TedMacMillan (2/9) has survived repair of a hernia<br />

which he has been wearing for a while waiting for his<br />

cardiologist to give the green light.<br />

Defence has resumed the publication of unit<br />

names with their death notices and Reveille mentions<br />

the following: NX145462 R Foster (2/5), NX108777<br />

CJ Monty (2/3), NX77745 K G Wilson (2/2). Keith’s<br />

tank is given as Gnr - I’ll try to check when I get home.<br />

MV Flower of 3 Cav Regt is listed as is NX11703 Lloyd<br />

Hendry (2/9). I have been in touch with Lloyd’s son Ian<br />

and will write a decent obituary for next edition.<br />

Reg Davis (Davis RTR) 2/9 is back in St George<br />

Hospital with acute fluid retention which may relate to<br />

heart or liver or kidleys. (Well I said “kidleys”, diddle<br />

I?) He is decidedly unwell but the nearest he gets to<br />

cursing is “Golly golly golly!”. We are already making<br />

plans for next Anzac Day.<br />

Barry Grant tells me that Ian Hampel (2/4) is back<br />

in Timor Leste, courtesy <strong>Commando</strong> Association.<br />

Bravo. I hope Ian will write a full report.<br />

Barry you may have noticed errors in last night’s<br />

email. Lloyd Hendry’s number was of course NX not<br />

Nc.<br />

All good things to you.<br />

Thats all for now.<br />

Harry<br />

★★★★★<br />

Further to Harry's spiel, I visited Reg<br />

in St George Hospital.<br />

He is in good spirits and was<br />

pleased to see me.<br />

If the current treatment is not helpful<br />

he may be transferred to the St. George Private.<br />

Barry G<br />

One evening, shortly after the honeymoon,<br />

Tom was working on his Harley motorcycle in the<br />

garage. His wife was standing there by the bench<br />

watching him.<br />

After a long period of silence she finally said:<br />

"Honey, I've just been thinking, now that we’re<br />

married, maybe it's time you quit spending so<br />

much of your time out here in your garage.<br />

You probably should consider selling your<br />

Harley and all that welding equipment; they take<br />

up so much of your time.<br />

And that gun collection and fishing gear, they<br />

just take up so much space.<br />

And you know the sailboat is such an ongoing<br />

expense; and you hardly use it.<br />

I also think you should lose all those stupid<br />

model airplanes and your home brewing<br />

equipment.<br />

And what’s the use of that vintage hot rod<br />

sports car?”<br />

Tom got a horrified look on his face.<br />

She noticed and said, "Darling, what's wrong?"<br />

He replied, "There for a minute, you were<br />

starting to sound like my ex-wife."<br />

"Ex-wife!?" she shouted, "YOU NEVER TOLD<br />


Tom replied, “I wasn't..."<br />

ACA NSW members on Timor Awakening<br />

Ivan Kelly, David Lynch and Bill Merchant re -<br />

presented ACANSW on the Timor Awakening trip<br />

earlier this year.<br />

They were very impressed with the reception and<br />

friendliness of the Timorese people.<br />

Their tour took them from Dili to Betano where the<br />

remains of the HMAS Voyager can be seen from the<br />

beach.<br />

It was here that they inserted the 2nd/4th<br />

Independent Company, but the ship became beached<br />

and they had to leave behind the 2nd/2nd Company<br />

that they were due to replace.<br />

Next month, September, another 3 members of the<br />

Association are travelling to Dili on yet another Timor<br />

Awakening adventure.<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 5

6 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

Investiture of OAM for Bruce Horsfield<br />

Recently 40 people<br />

gathered in Kirribilli to<br />

observe Bruce getting<br />

his OAM. Due to ill<br />

health he was unable to<br />

go to Government<br />

House.<br />

The State Governor,<br />

General Hurley AC DSC<br />

Ret'd and his wife<br />

attended to make the<br />

presentation.<br />

Also in attendance<br />

was the former<br />

Governor General of<br />

Australia Major General<br />

Mike Jeffery AC AO<br />

(Mil) CVO MC Ret'd<br />

and his wife.<br />

We are very proud<br />

of Bruce, notably he<br />

has produced video<br />

histories of Long Tan<br />

and the History of the<br />

SAS.<br />

In Bruce's early days he was a pioneer in civilian HALO parachuting, the stories of that issue raises the hair on the<br />

back of your neck.<br />

John Addison<br />

Douglas Allen<br />

Jack Tredrea<br />

Bruce Horsfield OAM<br />

Jim Geedrick<br />

Jack Mackay OAM<br />

VALE<br />

2 <strong>Commando</strong> Company<br />

2 <strong>Commando</strong> Company<br />

SRD (Z Special Unit)<br />

1 <strong>Commando</strong> Company<br />

AIF<br />

Z Special Unit<br />

John Addison Douglas Allen Jack Tredrea Bruce Horsfield OAM Jim Geedrick Jack MAckay OAM<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 7


<strong>Commando</strong> who led a platoon of headhunters in<br />

Borneo, but did not get the message that the war had<br />

ended in August 1945.<br />

Jack Tredrea was part of the elite Z Special unit<br />

during the Second World War<br />

Emperor Hirohito had announced Japan’s surrender<br />

in mid-August 1945 and the Second World War was<br />

officially finished, but no one had told an Australian<br />

commando who was leading a platoon of headhunters<br />

against Japanese forces in the Borneo jungle.<br />

Warrant Officer II Jack Tredrea fought on, con -<br />

tinuing to harass and ambush the enemy with rifle fire,<br />

grenades, parangs and a silent assault by poison dart<br />

propelled from a blowpipe.<br />

Come the third week of October, and unaware that<br />

his radio had come to grief in a river, the Allied<br />

authorities put a stop to it. Major Tom Harrisson, a<br />

British officer commanding the Special Operations<br />

Executive campaign in Borneo, sent a runner with a<br />

written order: “The war is over, Tredrea, get out the<br />

best way you can.”<br />

Tredrea paid off his fighters and travelled home by<br />

riverboat and aircraft, reverting to his peacetime, and<br />

peaceful, calling as a tailor of suits for the good<br />

burghers of Adelaide.<br />

Jonathan “Jack” Tredrea was born in 1920 in<br />

Adelaide and left school the day he turned 14 to work<br />

as a messenger boy for the bespoke tailor. He showed<br />

some promise as an Australian rules footballer, playing<br />

for the South Adelaide club, building muscle and<br />

stamina by cycling round the suburbs with deliveries.<br />

Volunteering for military service, Tredrea served<br />

initially as a medic in the Australian 6th Cavalry Field<br />

Ambulance. This equipped him with skills that, a few<br />

years later, would make him a revered figure among<br />

the Kelabit people of Borneo.<br />

Seeking adventure, he answered a notice calling for<br />

volunteers to serve in a “special unit”. The senior<br />

officer who interviewed him had been a customer of<br />

the tailor’s, and Tredrea was soon dispatched to Fraser<br />

Island, off the Queensland coast, for training that<br />

changed him from a cutter of cloth to a cutter of<br />

throats.<br />

Tredrea found that he had volunteered for the elite,<br />

top-secret Z Special unit. There followed a year of<br />

intensive instruction in weaponry, unarmed combat,<br />

languages, surveillance, sabotage, living off the land<br />

and jumping out of aircraft. His assignment, at the end<br />

of that year, was Borneo. A sea approach was too<br />

hazardous, so in late March 1945 two B-24 Liberators<br />

took off with a payload of eight Z Special paratroopers.<br />

Tredrea’s task was to recruit sympathetic inhabitants<br />

and lead them, as a trained guerrilla force, against the<br />

occupying Japanese. He jumped out of the aircraft with<br />

a sub-machinegun, six grenades, medical supplies and<br />

a cyanide pill, which was to be swallowed in the event<br />

of capture and interrogation by the Japanese.<br />

His medical expertise brought him immediate<br />

success. A village head man asked Tredrea to treat an<br />

old friend afflicted by a large lump in the groin. In the<br />

absence of any anaesthetic, Tredrea ordered two men<br />

to hold his patient down, lanced the growth, removed<br />

what he described later as “masses of pus” and packed<br />

the wound with sulfa powder.<br />

The old man made a spectacular recovery and<br />

Tredrea, his reputation established, soon had his<br />

guerrilla recruits. “They were incredibly brave, but they<br />

could give your position away because they were so<br />

impulsive,” he recalled in 2014. “You had to control<br />

them, or they’d go on the attack with their parangs and<br />

their blowpipes. They really were headhunters.”<br />

Describing a typical ambush of a Japanese patrol,<br />

he added: “By the use of blowpipes, we used to<br />

quietly pick off the Japs from the rear of line. ‘Pfft!’ ”<br />

Back in Australia after the war Tredrea was awarded<br />

the Military Medal for “remarkable energy, un selfish -<br />

ness and devotion to duty”. Meanwhile, in 1943 he had<br />

married Edith Anna Bongiorno. Their first daughter,<br />

Leonie Pinkerton, became a bookkeeper and died of<br />

cancer in 1997 aged 53. Their second daughter,<br />

Lynnette Behn, worked as a taxation consultant and<br />

survives him. Edith died in 2006.<br />

Both daughters had some taste of the commando<br />

life. Their father introduced them to the art of the<br />

blowpipe, although without the poison. He also placed<br />

mattresses by the back veranda and trained them to<br />

leap off the roof, landing with a paratrooper’s roll.<br />

Between 1993 and 2017 Tredrea made seven trips<br />

back to the Borneo highland territory in what is now<br />

Sarawak, Malaysia. On one visit he was reunited with<br />

three women who, as teenagers 70 years earlier, had<br />

served as porters in his jungle campaign. He gave them<br />

silver necklaces bearing the Z Special emblem. His gift<br />

for the wider Kelabit community was 45 sets of replica<br />

medals to honour those who had served under his<br />

command and had continued fighting for two months<br />

after it was all supposed to be over.<br />

Jack Tredrea, tailor and commando, was born on<br />

May 15, 1920. He died from kidney failure on July 17,<br />

<strong>2018</strong>, aged 98<br />

8 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

Jim Geedrick was an extraordinary<br />

Australian soldier<br />

When severely wounded by mortar fire during an<br />

armoured assault in Vietnam in August 1968, Australian<br />

Army adviser Jim Geedrick thought his soldiering days<br />

were finished.<br />

He had earlier been photographed at Gio Linh on<br />

Anzac Day proudly displaying an Australian flag, in<br />

what would become one of the most iconic images of<br />

the war.<br />

Now fighting for his life, the veteran of every<br />

campaign since World War II found himself medically<br />

evacuated home.<br />

Six months later, however, he would return to Gio<br />

Linh to complete his unfinished tour.<br />

For Geedrick, getting wounded was just part of a<br />

job he had been doing for three decades seeing<br />

combat in all Australian military conflicts from World<br />

War II through to Vietnam.<br />

Last month an illness managed what scores of<br />

Australia’s enemies could not: Geedrick died on July 22<br />

in Rockhampton, at peace at the age of 94.<br />

His death saw the passing of an extraordinary<br />

soldier whose career is unlikely to be matched by<br />

today’s soldiers.<br />

Although described as indigenous, Geedrick was<br />

born into a large family of Ceylonese descent in coastal<br />

Yeppoon, central Queensland in 1924.<br />

In March 1943, Geedrick enlisted in the AIF as an<br />

infantryman, where his natural skills and personality<br />

marked him out as a potential leader.<br />

By the time Geedrick retired 30 years later he had<br />

received every campaign and service medal then<br />

available in the Australian Defence Force. For his<br />

Vietnam service he also received US and Vietnamese<br />

gallantry awards.<br />

In Borneo at the end of WWII, lance corporal<br />

Geedrick enlisted in the regular army and was sent to<br />

the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces in<br />

Japan.<br />

There he met and married his first wife, Shizue, who<br />

had survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb blast. She<br />

later died from when in her 60s from cancer her family<br />

believes was caused by being exposed to indirect<br />

radiation from the atomic blast.<br />

In 1951 the now sergeant Geedrick joined his old<br />

battalion, 3RAR in Korea, fighting in the significant<br />

battles at Kapyong and later Maryang San.<br />

Geedrick served with 3RAR d u r i n g t h e<br />

Malayan Emergency, then later during Confrontation<br />

with Indonesia, returning to Borneo where he had been<br />

during WWII.<br />

On May 21, 1968 now Warrant Officer Class II<br />

Geedrick joined the Australian Army Training Team<br />

Vietnam.<br />

Former WOI Neil “Lofty” Eiby who served with<br />

Geedrick in Malaya and during Confrontation<br />

described him as “a great<br />

soldier and a wonderful<br />

man.”<br />

“Because he was Jim<br />

Geedrick he seemed to be<br />

able to get away with<br />

saying and doing things<br />

other people might not<br />

have,” Mr Eiby recalled.<br />

“He was blunt but he was fair and above all he was<br />

humorous.”<br />

Geedrick’s final army posting was as RSM of the<br />

Australian Army cadet battalion based in Rock hamp -<br />

ton, a perfect segue for his later career as school<br />

sergeant at Rockhampton Grammar School, where he<br />

served from 1973 until 1997.<br />

He remarried Jurin who was from Thailand and the<br />

pair shared 25 years of marriage. He is survived by Jurin<br />

and his three children from his first marriage, Gene, Kim<br />

and Sheree.<br />

A spokesman for Rockhampton Grammar said the<br />

school had planned a dinner this weekend to honour<br />

his 25-years service to the school.<br />

“We knew he had been ill recently and weren’t sure<br />

whether he could attend,” the spokesman said.<br />

“He was a great mentor to generations of students<br />

at our school.”<br />

VALE<br />

It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you of<br />

the passing of AB Jack Mackay OAM of Z Special<br />

Unit on Saturday, 11 August <strong>2018</strong>.<br />

Jack served as part of the build up and training<br />

for Operation Jaywick, however he became ill and<br />

was not able to join the Operation<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 9


As a former Army commando, media academic and<br />

documentary maker, Bruce Horsfield was ideally<br />

positioned to package the rich history of the Australian<br />

Special Air Service Regiment.<br />

Bruce’s early interest in the military saw him join the<br />

Australian Cadet Corps before moving onto the<br />

University of NSW Regiment and really getting serious<br />

by qualifying as a member of I <strong>Commando</strong> Company<br />

in Sydney.<br />

Bruce quickly found his niche in the Green Berets,<br />

completing the unit’s exacting SCUBA diving course,<br />

submarine-kayak raids course and basic parachute<br />

course at RAAF Williamtown – simultaneously<br />

qualifying as trained teacher and going on to earn a<br />

Bachelor of Arts from New England University, Master<br />

of Arts from Sydney University and Doctor of<br />

Philosophy from the University of Exeter, where he<br />

completed a thesis on children’s television drama<br />

researched at BBCTV in London.<br />

If all that was not enough, he used any spare time<br />

to hone his parachuting skills, quickly progressing the<br />

basic military course to excursions into the<br />

troposphere that saw him take out the Australian High<br />

Altitude Free Fall Record of 25,000 feet, Southern<br />

Hemisphere High Altitude Free Fall Record of 31,000<br />

feet and make the NSW Parachute team for the 1963<br />

Australian Free Fall Championships.<br />

Some 340 jumps later - including two without<br />

reserve parachute, night free falls, water jumps and<br />

two main chute failures that caused him to have to<br />

deploy his reserve - Bruce decided to switch to field<br />

hockey, where he went on to represent Queensland in<br />

the 1996 Australian Veterans’ Championships.<br />

Bruce’s interest in television came with his move to<br />

the University of Southern Queensland as Professor of<br />

Media Studies, where he saw an opportunity to draw<br />

on his military experience to shoot a documentary on<br />

the most famous Australian incident in the Vietnam<br />

War, the Battle of Long Tan. His 54-minute tribute to<br />

that epic fight, Long Tan – the True Story, went on to<br />

become a Vietnam War classic and “one of the five<br />

best Australian documentaries” put to air by SBS<br />

International.<br />

Long Tan has since been broadcast three times by<br />

SBSTV, twice by ABCTV, eight times on Australian<br />

History Channel, twice on Canadian History Channel<br />

and was purchased by Australia Television for its Pan-<br />

Pacific cable and re-broadcast networks. Distributed<br />

by Film Australia and Siren Visual, the documentary<br />

continues to sell in video stories and is available in<br />

universities and libraries through Australia and abroad.<br />

Bruce’s work on Long Tan and a social impact study<br />

he carried out in the Pacific Islands for UNESCO<br />

combined to see him awarded a University Medal from<br />

the University of Southern Queensland.<br />

Long Tan also led to Bruce accepting an invitation<br />

to tackle a documentary on Australia’s Force of first<br />

choice, the Perth-based Special Air Service Regiment,<br />

which he spent 18 years piecing together with the<br />

support and guidance of former Governor-General,<br />

Major General Mike Jeffery, AC, AO (Mil), CVO, MC,<br />

who served as a CO of SASR, Director of Special<br />

Forces and Honorary Colonel of the SAS Regiment.<br />

A 10-part series tracing the formation and<br />

development of the SAS up to, for security reasons,<br />

the early stages of the Afghanistan War and the<br />

second Iraqi War, The Australian SAS – the Untold<br />

History was officially launched at Government House<br />

in Canberra by the Governor-General, General Sir<br />

Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), in September 2016<br />

before a large gathering of the nation’s leading military<br />

personnel including MAJGEN Jeffery and the then<br />

Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Sir Allan<br />

Grant "Angus" Houston, AK, AC, AFC.<br />

SAS the Untold History relates the unit’s 50 year<br />

history from a beginning marred by scepticism and<br />

rejection to world-wide recognition as a highly<br />

sophisticated reconnaissance, strike, recovery and<br />

counter-terrorist force. The series include an extended<br />

interview with the current US Secretary of Defense,<br />

retired four star General James N Mattis, about the<br />

important role SASR played in Afghanistan. Early<br />

copies of the documentary have earned high praise<br />

and approval from the Special Forces fraternity and<br />

been acquired by major institutions across Australia<br />

and internationally. An abridged version has also run<br />

on The History Channel.<br />

Bruce was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in<br />

<strong>2018</strong> by the Governor of New South Wales GEN David<br />

Hurley for his service to military history, academic<br />

achievement and sport parachuting. Supporting GEN<br />

Hurley at the private investiture was MAJGEN Jeffery,<br />

Bruce’s long-time mentor.<br />

For his service to the Regiment he was also<br />

admitted to the Australian Special Air Service<br />

Association as an Associate Member.<br />

Photo shows Bruce when filming Long Tan: the True Story in<br />

Vietnam 1992.<br />

10 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

I thought we should share this account of early High Altitude parachuting with you.<br />

Most readers would not have known that this type of activity in Australia was virtually unknown until some<br />

unsung heroes from an Army Reserve Special Forces Unit took the “big step” (literally).<br />



Nostalgia from Bruce Horsfield<br />

I read with interest and nostalgia an item in a Strike<br />

Swiftly sometime ago, on Brian Murphy’s high altitude<br />

low opening (HALO) free fall parachuting record back in<br />

the 60’s. Brian’s achievement caught my imagination at<br />

the time and I thought that your readers might like to<br />

hear about some other early HALO endeavours by a<br />

member of 1 <strong>Commando</strong> Company. In setting down my<br />

own HALO experiences as I recall them, warts-and-all, I<br />

often shudder at some of the vivid images that come<br />

sharply into focus in my memory, stern reminders of the<br />

problems and dangers we were up against and the<br />

limitations of our approach. Certainly, we were really<br />

establishing civilian HALO parachuting in Australia and<br />

there were critical times when our ignorance caught up<br />

with us. But we were lucky, we were young and some -<br />

what brash, and we had some successes. And now, of<br />

course, with the wisdom of hindsight and middle age,<br />

we’d probably not take as many risks as we did in our<br />

three attempts on HALO altitude records.<br />

“High altitude” is an imprecise term but my memory<br />

has it that “HALO” jumping is free falling from over<br />

20,000 feet - that height above which the free fall<br />

parachutist is required both to use the inboard aircraft<br />

oxygen supply and to carry a separate portable oxygen<br />

supply in free fall.<br />

* * * * * * *<br />

Early 1958, at age 17, I was the sole volunteer in D<br />

Company, University of NSW Regiment - the scruffy,<br />

university student conscript CMF unit that was the<br />

Newcastle part of UNSWR. I had never heard of 1<br />

<strong>Commando</strong> Company but after a chance meeting at<br />

Holsworthy with the unassuming and very professional<br />

Brian Murphy I was delighted in September ‘58 to pass<br />

the medical for 1 <strong>Commando</strong> Company, transfer from D<br />

Company and get my black beret. On the Taronga Zoo<br />

bus to Georges Heights on the first Tuesday parade<br />

night I met Corporal Mike Wells. Later Mike showed me<br />

some photos of the free falling that he, Brian Murphy,<br />

Barry Evers, Red Harrison and others were pioneering<br />

(and, painfully, without canopy deployment sleeves!) at<br />

Camden, south west of Sydney. This really looked like<br />

absolute lunacy to me at the time, and I mentally<br />

dismissed parachuting as unnecessarily dangerous and<br />

definitely to be avoided. Worse, during my Green Beret<br />

training I was dismayed to learn that the Para course was<br />

the only compulsory course in the unit. I seriously<br />

thought that I would quietly resign from 1 <strong>Commando</strong><br />

Company. But as many of us who have been through the<br />

unit have no doubt found, with its effective training and<br />

great esprit de corps, I gradually started to warm to the<br />

idea of parachuting. I had always been air minded and<br />

loved heights and would have enlisted as a pilot in the<br />

Fleet Air Arm in 1957 had my father allowed me. The<br />

older hands in 1 Cdo wearing their Para wings cer tainly<br />

seemed no worse for the experience (read: if they can<br />

get their wings then so can I!)<br />

So, in April 1960 I grasped the nettle and did my first<br />

frightening static line jump from 1200 feet with Sydney<br />

Skydivers at Camden using a 28-foot British X-type ex-<br />

Army static line parachute. The jump platform was a<br />

lumbering but adequate De Havilland Dragon twinengine<br />

biplane. By the time I did the Para course at<br />

RAAF Williamtown in November 1960 I had already<br />

completed eight static line jumps and two “jump and<br />

pulls” i.e. with ripcord deployment from 2,500 feet.<br />

Barry Clissold had also started jumping at about that<br />

time and we were the only “experienced” jumpers on<br />

our Para course, smugly watching 20 others fearful and<br />

utterly miserable first jumpers on the first long, long<br />

sortie until we started to catch the jitters from them<br />

anyway. Gradually I got hooked on free falling and<br />

bought my own ex-USAF main parachute and reserve,<br />

so that a few of us could go up country on weekends<br />

and make a plane load to get higher altitude jumps.<br />

At Camden in 1960 a free fall of 5-10 seconds was<br />

regarded as pretty sophisticated stuff. While we were<br />

very keen, none of us demonstrated much skill in or<br />

knowledge about free falling. The near blind led the<br />

blind. True skill in free fall - and high altitude air space<br />

so close to Sydney - were both very scarce. Sadly, we<br />

were restricted at Camden to 3,500 feet above terrain<br />

by Air Traffic Control at Mascot. Of course, skydivers can<br />

never get enough altitude and non-bivouac week ends<br />

would often see a few of us in Goulburn or Bathurst for<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> <strong>13</strong>

higher altitudes. By 1962 we were profi cient at<br />

stabilising and turning in longer free falls of 7,000–8,000<br />

feet above terrain. We knew little of HALO jumping (I<br />

don’t think the term had been invented) and we were<br />

still a bit timid about altitudes above 10,000- 12,000<br />

feet. HALO jumps from the troposphere (alti tudes up to<br />

37,000 feet) and the stratosphere (above 37,000 feet)<br />

were remote, fantasies to ponder over a beer. No one<br />

that we knew had experienced free falls from either of<br />

those levels. Anyway, what would be the requirements<br />

for oxygen? We understood that in-board oxygen was<br />

required above 10,000 feet AMSL by the then<br />

Department of Civil Aviation and there were stories that<br />

a personal oxygen supply in free fall was also<br />

compulsory above 20,000 feet AMSL. But where could<br />

the small personal bottles and oxygen masks to carry in<br />

free fall be obtained? Who had that sort of gear?<br />

Moreover, suitable aircraft that could make it to higher<br />

altitudes were expensive and hard to find. But all this<br />

was more in the realm of pub talk, for at this time we<br />

were mostly preoccupied with mastering stability and<br />

linking up with each other in free fall, and trying to steer<br />

our canopies to land dead centre on the DZ marker.<br />

But because of our love of free falling the mystique<br />

of high altitude parachuting – prolonging the free fall<br />

part of the jump - persisted with many of us. Were there<br />

real dangers in a long free fall, we wondered? Could you<br />

lose control, and go into an accelerating flat spin that<br />

would cause blackout, as we read had happened in the<br />

USA? That is, my generation of jumpers in the early ‘60’s<br />

thought mainly of the free fall part of the jump, and not<br />

being skiers or climbers asked few if any questions<br />

about the environment of the troposphere. Not having<br />

ever been seriously exposed to the frigidity of high<br />

altitude, we had no sense of the hazards of hypo -<br />

thermia, exposure, sub-zero temperatures, frost bite,<br />

frozen altimeters, and the decline in mental per -<br />

formance, judgement and gross and fine motor skills<br />

resulting from hypoxia. (We didn’t of course know that<br />

we would soon get first hand experience of these things<br />

the hard way!) To us HALO was all just a fantasy fuelled<br />

by a frustrating mixture of timidity, ignorance, curiosity<br />

and a desire for adventure. Obviously, by this stage I’d<br />

come a long way since my dread of the basic Para<br />

course. One detail we weren’t worried about though<br />

was the chance of missing the drop zone on a HALO<br />

sortie. Just getting to the ground in one piece would do<br />

nicely. Anyway, the spotting on our sorties was often<br />

lousy in the early 60’s and we all knew what it was like to<br />

lug our gear a long way back to the strip after a poor<br />

spot!<br />

But skydivers elsewhere, free of the altitude<br />

restrictions of Camden, pushed ahead. Suddenly,<br />

drama tically, higher leaps started happening around us.<br />

Laurie Trotter, an early ‘civvie’ skydiver, set an Australian<br />

altitude record with a 60 second delay from 12,000 feet.<br />

At Camden our parochial little group of skydivers were<br />

grudgingly impressed. Then, to our surprise and delight,<br />

Brian Murphy made a successful attempt on Trotter’s<br />

Australian high altitude free fall record using a Cessna<br />

210. Brian’s free fall from 17,000 feet - astonishing at the<br />

time - broke not only Trotter’s 12,000 feet Australian<br />

record but also our own psychological and physical<br />

resistance to the HALO environment above 12,000 feet.<br />

Then a NZ skydiving team using a supercharged Aero<br />

Commander 680F attained a remarkable 27,000 feet - a<br />

wondrous, absolutely mind-blowing excursion into the<br />

upper troposphere even by today’s standards. And, for<br />

what it was worth, it was a Southern Hemisphere high<br />

altitude free fall record. They exited at 27,000 feet and<br />

pulled ripcords at 2,000 feet. To most of us at Camden<br />

that sort of operation and altitude seemed out of our<br />

league. I remember wondering at the time just how such<br />

a jump could be possible.<br />

However, times and people change and in 1965 I<br />

decided to give it a go. We - Robin Godwin, a civvie<br />

mate, and I - would attack the Kiwi’s Southern Hemi -<br />

sphere HALO record of 27,000 feet. Brian Murphy<br />

unselfishly lent us each a portable oxygen cylinder (De<br />

Havilland Vampire jet fighter ejection seat cylinders,<br />

each with a 7 minute constant flow supply), which was<br />

required for jumping above 20,000 feet AMSL by the<br />

Australian Parachute Federation. Brian had acquired<br />

these little bottles for his own HALO record attempts<br />

(deferred indefinitely following a knee injury while<br />

parachuting). We were lucky to get cost - free an Aero<br />

Commander 680F, in a sponsorship deal with the then<br />

Avis Rent-a-Plane. The Avis pilot, Captain Peter Ahrens,<br />

assured us that the 680F could beat the Kiwi’s 27,000<br />

feet. At this stage I had done 147 jumps, mostly free<br />

falls, the highest being a 45 second delayed opening<br />

from 9,500 feet without oxygen equipment.<br />

Our plan was to free fall from the Aero Commander’s<br />

absolute ceiling – we had no idea what this would be -<br />

to 2000 feet, open parachutes, and land in Lake<br />

Illawarra where boats of the Kanahooka Motor Boat<br />

Club would retrieve us. Along with us on the sortie as<br />

“drifter” (a term used to refer to a device for gauging<br />

the wind strength and direction after take off but also to<br />

justify a free jump) was my younger brother - another<br />

Robin, aged 18 - who was doing his 45th jump. (Soon<br />

after, in January 1966 during the Vietnam War, Robin<br />

“celebrated” being conscripted by doing 40 jumps in<br />

one day onto Aero Pelican strip, Newcastle. Rob has<br />

very good legs!) As our drifter, Robin was to free-fall<br />

from about 16,000 feet to 2000 feet and land in the lake,<br />

exiting the aircraft as it climbed to whatever altitude the<br />

pilot could attain. The Aero Commander had its own inboard<br />

passenger oxygen console for our use on the<br />

climb and we would carry the little 7-minute ejection<br />

seat oxygen cylinders tied to our reserve chute bungies.<br />

These would be connected to our $5 Army Disposal<br />

Store WWII “12 O’clock High” oxygen masks – oldish,<br />

but in mint condition, like the candy striped USAF<br />

military surplus parachutes that we used. We would<br />

change over from the aircraft oxygen console to our<br />

portable cylinders on the dropping run, just prior to exit.<br />

The air space clearance to all altitudes from Air Traffic<br />

Control Mascot was for Sunday 14 February 1965 from<br />

first light to 0700 hours. Piece of cake!<br />

14 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

We spent an uncomfortable night before the drop on<br />

the floor at the Albion Park Aero Club. Next morning,<br />

mindful of Brian Murphy’s report of the deep cold he<br />

had experienced on his own record jump, we ate a<br />

hearty meal of steak and eggs thinking it would keep<br />

our bodies warm on the sortie. It was a meal we were<br />

shortly to regret having eaten. Then, to make it easier to<br />

get from our aircraft seats to the rear doorway for exit,<br />

we reversed the Aero Commander’s seats on their floor<br />

mountings so that all of us, except the pilot, Captain<br />

Peter Ahrens, faced the rear door, which we removed for<br />

our exit under the port wing. This also meant that all of<br />

us - pilot included - had our backs to the 680F’s oxygen<br />

console, into which we were all plugged. Several days<br />

previously we had sought to familiarise ourselves with<br />

the aircraft oxygen console and low-pressure con -<br />

necting lines and fittings but unfortunately - and<br />

ominously - we couldn’t organise it with Avis staff. So, as<br />

we geared up next to the aircraft for our Southern<br />

Hemisphere HALO Record bid, we were full of steak and<br />

eggs, rash optimism and the confidence of youth. Not<br />

only were we totally unfamiliar with the vital oxygen<br />

system on the Aero Commander but we had also<br />

ingeniously managed to arrange the seats so that all<br />

four of us, pilot included, were sitting with our backs to<br />

the all - important oxygen console. Moreover, neither of<br />

us had used Brian’s Vampire ejection seat bottles before,<br />

even in a rehearsal, since once the lanyard was yanked<br />

the flow could not be turned off, requiring a timeconsuming<br />

service by Hawker de Havilland at Banks -<br />

town. Youthful impatience resisted such extravagant<br />

waste of time!<br />

However, the morning was clear and calm and so we<br />

geared up in parachutes, life jackets, oxygen cylinders,<br />

balaclavas, gloves and ski masks and heaved ourselves<br />

on board the Aero Commander. The aircraft’s take-off<br />

gave us our first discomforting surprise, for to us the<br />

speed and rate of climb of the supercharged Aero Com -<br />

mander were simply incredible, and to me as jump -<br />

master/dispatcher quite disorienting. Accustomed to<br />

under powered Austers, the old De Havilland Dragon<br />

and the odd struggling Cessna, where there was ample<br />

time in the slow climb to altitude to think about the<br />

jump ahead, we were riding in a rocket by comparison.<br />

This resulted in less time to adjust mentally to the new<br />

environment of high altitude – a feeling of being<br />

“rushed” and of not being in complete control of our<br />

sortie.<br />

As we climbed steeply over Lake Illawarra, what had<br />

begun as clear sunny sky suddenly started to clag right<br />

in underneath us. A sea drift of thick, opaque cloud<br />

began rapidly to obscure the ground and lake. In no<br />

time we were at 18,000 feet and I dispatched brother<br />

Robin, who enjoyed a very long free fall to the lake<br />

through the last, fast-disappearing small hole remaining<br />

in the cloud cover. Pulling at 2,000 feet, he later<br />

reported a very pleasant and satisfying free fall. As the<br />

680F shot on up into the troposphere the complete<br />

cloud cover settled in well below us - but how far below,<br />

we could not tell merely by looking down at it. We had<br />

no DZ controller with ground to air radio and even if<br />

we’d had ground control there was little they could have<br />

done to guide an aircraft that they could barely hear and<br />

couldn’t see. In fact, by 19,000 feet we had absolutely<br />

no specific idea of where we were, and I couldn’t do my<br />

usual visual spotting for the exit point because there<br />

were no landmarks visible. A moody dawn sky above the<br />

cloud added to the sense of strangeness and uneasiness<br />

of it all and we had no plan of action for finding a lost<br />

DZ. Navigation for the dropping run and exit point<br />

therefore devolved entirely on the radio navigation skills<br />

of our pilot, Peter Ahrens, who seemed to have caught<br />

the spirit of our record attempt. No one, including the<br />

pilot, thought of calling it off because of the total cloud<br />

cover. It had taken much organisation, time and effort to<br />

get this far, and we were determined not to abort the<br />

sortie if we could avoid it.<br />

Then as we approached 25,000 feet I started to doze<br />

off to sleep, rationalising to myself that the previous few<br />

days jump preparations and the rough night’s sleep had<br />

been a little fatiguing and that a cat nap before the<br />

dropping run would surely do me the world of good. Of<br />

course, as a new chum I had no idea that I was drifting<br />

into the cosy seductiveness and fatuous serenity of<br />

hypoxia. This disaster struck very quietly. Unnoticed by<br />

us, behind our backs all three oxygen lines - pilot’s<br />

included - had simply dropped out of the oxygen<br />

console to the floor under their own meagre weight<br />

because of slack bayonet fittings. We did not know we<br />

were breathing only the thin inadequate atmosphere.<br />

So, there we were, hurtling upwards, dead to the world<br />

in a deep hypoxic slumber. In his sleep Robin vomited<br />

up his steak and eggs into his oxygen mask and all over<br />

his reserve ‘chute, clothing, his seat and the carpeted<br />

aircraft floor.<br />

Suddenly I woke up, nauseous and very groggy.<br />

Where the hell was I? What was going on? As I struggled<br />

to gain some awareness I realised that the aircraft was in<br />

a steep dive. Fortunately for us all, Peter Ahrens, an<br />

experienced pilot, had detected early the symptoms of<br />

hypoxia in himself and was descending as quickly as he<br />

could to a safe altitude. I was light-headed, sick and<br />

weary, but felt even worse when I realised that our<br />

precious record attempt was RS. But then Robin woke<br />

up and I thought fast. (The inflated arrogance, mindless<br />

urgency and insatiable appetite of youth!) I reassured<br />

the pilot confidently that we were ok to jump, but at first<br />

Peter didn’t want to know. Although I felt dreadful, I was<br />

insistent, making me speak briskly and moving pur -<br />

posefully to show him how wonderfully recovered and<br />

normal I really was. It was a shameless con. I shudder to<br />

think of how we must have looked and sounded. But<br />

Peter, sizing us up, finally agreed to give it another go,<br />

and called up Air Traffic Control Mascot for an extension<br />

of time. I refitted our oxygen leads and held them in<br />

their sockets, and the pilot pulled the aircraft’s nose<br />

back up. We managed to get to 25,200 feet before our<br />

extra time ran out. Peter then signalled us to jump. We<br />

changed over from the aircraft bottle to our 7-minute<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 15

supply portable bottles and crawled into the open<br />

doorway.<br />

Poking my head through the doorway I looked down<br />

on a vast white floor of thick cloud thousands of feet<br />

below us. Where, under all that cloud, was our Lake<br />

Illawarra drop zone? Far to what was probably the west<br />

of us a mountain peak nosing up through the cloud may<br />

possibly have been near Burragorang, but as far as my<br />

addled judgement was concerned it could have been<br />

any feature at all. Peter was working overtime cranking<br />

the RDF handle above his head trying to fix our position<br />

within a triangle formed by three terrestrial nondirectional<br />

radio navigation beacons (NDB’s). He kept<br />

nodding vigorously to us that we could jump, but<br />

looking down on to the complete cloud cover I<br />

hesitated in the doorway. I wondered sluggishly if fixing<br />

one’s position by triangulating NDB’s was accurate<br />

enough for us, as only one NDB could be lined up at a<br />

time, and with the great speed of the Aero Commander<br />

it seemed that a large margin of error was likely. It didn’t<br />

occur to either of us or to the pilot to abort the sortie<br />

but because there is only a thin strip of land between<br />

Lake Illawarra and the ocean I was afraid that we might<br />

even be out over the Tasman Sea. If we jumped perhaps<br />

no one would see us and we might be lost out to sea.<br />

Peter continued to put the Aero Commander into a fast,<br />

steeply banking orbit - clearly, he thought that we were<br />

over the drop zone. I wasn’t as confident as he – I had<br />

been on sorties where the pilot had insisted on doing<br />

the spotting and it was always very inaccurate. It also<br />

crossed my still sluggish mind that we didn’t know<br />

whether the base of the cloud cover was right down to<br />

ground level or was at our parachute opening height of<br />

2,000 feet, or was higher, or lower. But finding the DZ<br />

was our absolute priority and accuracy now depended<br />

entirely on the pilot’s navigational skills. As we banked in<br />

a continuing 360-degree circle I kept gesticulating to<br />

him, “Where are we? Can we go?” But with our seven<br />

minute portable bottles starting to run low, pinpoint<br />

accuracy became an academic question and despite<br />

feeling very vulnerable and disoriented, our dwindling<br />

oxygen supply forced the decision. I dived through the<br />

terrific slipstream of the port engine into the vast void of<br />

space and sky, Robin Godwin following immediately.<br />

As I stabilised in free fall, the sun peeked over the<br />

horizon of the cloud floor far below and my amber<br />

tinted ski goggles treated me to an enthralling,<br />

spectacular display of colour as the eastern sky and the<br />

entire terrain of cloud turned rich pink, orange and<br />

crimson. Instinctively I did a 90-degree turn and faced<br />

the rising sun. (At this stage I had been studying the<br />

transcendental nature poetry of the Lake Poets such as<br />

Wordsworth and Coleridge for my BA degree and, high<br />

on a blend of their pantheistic Naturfilosofie and the<br />

drunkenness of hypoxia, I found this solitary splendour<br />

of crimson cloud at high altitude total, spiritual and<br />

calming. In a crazy, irrational way my orientation to earth<br />

and sky inverted, as it were, so that the sky above me<br />

seemed solid and the ground below distant, ephemeral<br />

and unimportant. The Lake Poets would have<br />

approved!) But this transcendental “high” was suddenly<br />

interrupted, for as I reached terminal velocity in free fall<br />

my 12 O’clock High oxygen mask was blasted off my<br />

face and I was forced reluctantly out of my reverie and<br />

back to my immediate problems. Holding my oxygen<br />

mask firmly on my face with one hand while struggling<br />

to maintain free fall stability with the other, I started to<br />

wonder how much height I had left, since, still under the<br />

influence of the solar psychedelics and still not mentally<br />

100%, I hadn’t noticed whether my 10,000 feet altimeter<br />

had wound past zero once or twice. So with the soft<br />

surface of the cloud cover below now starting to rush at<br />

me, I grappled with my frenzied oxygen mask and with<br />

the problem of whether I was at 18,000 feet or 8,000<br />

feet. Dawn suddenly turned to dusk as I plunged into<br />

the grey-white gloom of the cloud mass, but my mental<br />

clock told me that my altimeter needle had in fact<br />

wound past zero twice. I took a punt and pulled at what<br />

I hoped was 2,500 feet, and not 12,500 feet, still in the<br />

cloud. As I floated down out of the cloud base I saw the<br />

ground and could see that I was at 1,800 feet - not<br />

above Lake Illawarra or the Tasman Sea, but above the<br />

land strip between the lake and the Tasman. Robin<br />

Godwin landed nearby. That was good enough. “A big<br />

thanks to our able pilot, Peter Ahrens”. Spotting with<br />

NDB’s is a fine thing, and to be highly recommended!<br />

Who wanted water landing anyway?<br />

On the ground I still felt sick from the hypoxia and a<br />

bit dazed and weary from the whole experience, but I<br />

was glad to be in one piece. It turned out that Robin<br />

Godwin had waited until clearing the cloud before<br />

pulling his ripcord and I must ask him one day how he<br />

knew that the cloud base wasn’t at ground level.<br />

Perhaps he was keeping close tabs on his altimeter as he<br />

fell. Afterwards we enjoyed a day or two of media hype,<br />

but we had had a taste of HALO and promptly started<br />

planning to better both our Australian record of 25,000<br />

feet and the Southern Hemisphere Record of 27,000<br />

feet of the New Zealand team. We were feeling quite<br />

pleased with ourselves, for our sortie could easily have<br />

been a disastrous and embarrassing failure (purists<br />

would say that it was anyway!). True, if we hadn’t<br />

blacked out we could have possibly made 30,000 feet or<br />

better in the time available. But we had gained some<br />

invaluable experience with oxygen and with operational<br />

planning. We hadn’t been cold at all at 25,000 feet or at<br />

any time on the flight, even with the door removed.<br />

Perhaps we were too hypoxic to notice, but I don’t think<br />

so. I thought at the time that perhaps we stayed warm<br />

because the aircraft climbed so quickly that we didn’t<br />

have time to lose much body heat. But we were soon to<br />

discover the hard way that the time of year affects<br />

temperatures “upstairs” a great deal.<br />

Now, how were we going to beat the Kiwi’s 27,000<br />

feet record? Finding a suitable jump aircraft was no easy<br />

matter. The Avis Aero Commander was no longer<br />

available to us as Avis went out of the rent-a-plane<br />

business soon after (but not because of!) our jump. After<br />

a very long and frustrating search we managed to find<br />

another sponsor when WD and HO Wills agreed to pay<br />

16 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

for the Aero Commander 680F of King Ranch Australia.<br />

The pilot, John Laffin, assured us that his 680F had an<br />

absolute ceiling of over 30,000 feet. So, on 12<br />

September 1965 the two Robins and I flew up to Cowra<br />

for the record attempt - but without the steak and eggs<br />

breakfast this time. To avoid the pleasures of hypoxia we<br />

did good aircraft oxygen and equipment checks before<br />

taking off. At 22,000 feet, I despatched brother Rob<br />

(with 53 jumps still regarded as too inexperienced for<br />

the higher altitude “men’s” stuff) and we continued to<br />

climb towards the 680F’s maximum ceiling.<br />

But before long the plummeting temperature in the<br />

aircraft became excruciating. The cold was absolutely<br />

appalling. The frigid blast from the port propeller was<br />

rammed in through the open doorway, icing into opacity<br />

our goggles and altimeters, reducing us to sluggish -<br />

ness, numbing our hands and fingers and giving our<br />

clothing, faces and parachute rigs a heavy coating of<br />

frost. I had never experienced anything like this in my<br />

entire life. Pilot John was obviously suffering greatly too<br />

and a more wretched trio I couldn’t imagine. Hypo -<br />

thermia was rapidly debilitating us. However, despite<br />

the terrible wind chill factor and deep cold, we never -<br />

theless continued the climb. After all, that’s why we were<br />

there!<br />

But it wasn’t to be. At 27,000 feet - equal to the<br />

height of the New Zealand altitude record - the oil in the<br />

port engine thickened from the cold and the pilot had to<br />

feather its three bladed propellers. I can’t recall it clearly<br />

but my logbook states that for some reason my mate<br />

Robin blacked out at about this stage and that he didn’t<br />

regain consciousness until a lower altitude was reached.<br />

On only one engine the Aero Commander dropped<br />

rapidly and by the time we changed over from aircraft<br />

oxygen to our portable cylinders and exited we were<br />

down to 18,000 feet - ironically, an exit height lower<br />

than brother Robin’s 22,000 feet only a short while<br />

before.<br />

I shall never forget the frigid misery of the free fall<br />

that followed. Already hypothermic, I found the cold in<br />

free fall unbearable, piercing my thick layers of clothing,<br />

gloves, balaclava and helmet. My skull chilled and I felt<br />

that my brain was freezing - I might as well have been<br />

free falling stark naked. To try to avoid the awful cold I<br />

rolled onto my back into the “dead horse” position, so<br />

that the main parachute pack might provide a shield<br />

from the painfully cold blast of free fall. But to no avail.<br />

I was chilled to the marrow. I perhaps should have<br />

opened my parachute high to end the pain, but not<br />

knowing the wind strengths and directions at all<br />

altitudes and not knowing where I might drift off to, it<br />

really wasn’t an option. Mercifully the opening height of<br />

2,000 feet finally arrived, and, my fingers being in -<br />

operable, I pulled the ripcord with my thumb.<br />

What a forgettable sortie! With a glum sense of<br />

anticlimax, we packed up and flew back to Sydney. We<br />

had not beaten the Kiwis’ Southern Hemisphere or even<br />

our own Lake Illawarra Australian record. To be fair, we<br />

had had no warning during the Lake Illawarra record<br />

attempt of the perils and difficulties of extreme cold at<br />

high altitude, and so had not really given it any serious<br />

thought on this second attempt.<br />

But we weren’t yet ready to call it a day, and despite<br />

the awful obstacle of hypothermia we still wanted to<br />

beat the Kiwis - if possible, without the problems of<br />

oxygen and cold, which had detracted from our earlier<br />

efforts at Lake Illawarra and Cowra. WD and HO Wills<br />

were a bit put off by our Cowra failure but sportingly<br />

rallied to meet the costs of a Fokker F27 Mark 1<br />

Friendship turbo prop airliner from the then East West<br />

Airlines. An airliner, no less! Yes, thanks! We invited<br />

Kenny Bath, an instructor at Sydney Skydivers, to join us<br />

for this third attempt on the Southern Hemisphere High<br />

Altitude Record. We told Ken about our loss of 10,000<br />

feet of hard earned altitude at Cowra because of the<br />

slow changeover from aircraft to personal oxygen. He<br />

turned up with male and female couplings for each of<br />

us, which, he said, would enable us to do a quicker<br />

switch over from the aircraft oxygen, supply to our little<br />

personal bottles so that any loss of precious oxygen or<br />

altitude would be negligible. I was so reassured by this<br />

cunning display of engineering initiative that I didn’t<br />

even try out the couplings, but left Kenny to fit a pair to<br />

each of our personal cylinder oxygen lines. It all seemed<br />

so simple.<br />

East West Airlines shrewdly moved our third record<br />

attempt to Grafton in northern NSW for two reasons: a)<br />

it was a sea level drop zone, providing “free” altitude<br />

compared with higher inland drop zones such as Cowra,<br />

and b) there was turbine fuel for refuelling. The Fokker’s<br />

absolute ceiling would be greater with a partial fuel<br />

load. Our inboard aircraft oxygen consisted initially of<br />

the pressurised interior of the Fokker, then medical<br />

oxygen cylinders from CIG strapped to the seat next to<br />

each of us for when the aircraft depressurised above<br />

20,000 feet. The spotting at high altitude was the job of<br />

the pilot, Captain Jim Swan, who would fly on a heading<br />

at whatever altitude he could attain straight down the<br />

Grafton runway and signal us when to jump. Knowing<br />

that the oxygen changeover on the dropping run was<br />

more important than where we would land I had no<br />

problem with this plan. (After the jump, we found<br />

ourselves only a forgivable kilometre from the strip.) On<br />

the dropping run we would therefore have ample time<br />

for an unhurried changeover from aircraft to personal<br />

oxygen systems. On the climb, although depressurised,<br />

we would keep the Fokker’s sliding rear passenger door<br />

closed so that the cabin heaters could warm up the<br />

interior. This proved to be very successful in keeping us<br />

warm before and thus during the free fall. However, after<br />

the deep cold of the Cowra jump, I had readily accepted<br />

Brian Murphy’s kind offer of his padded USAF aircrew<br />

quilted nylon inner suit for the jump (where did he get<br />

that, I wondered). Again, because of the previous effect<br />

of deep cold on my fingers, I swapped my leather<br />

gloves for large leather motorcycle gauntlets, which<br />

were mitten-like, without individual fingers – my thumb<br />

would have to pull the ripcord. Ken Bath and Robin<br />

Godwin had white cotton overalls on and warm clothing<br />

and balaclavas. In the quilted USAF suit I looked and felt<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 17

like something from outer space, especially as it was too<br />

big for me. I had no opportunity to try the suit out in free<br />

fall before the big day – if I’d tried it out in free fall I<br />

wouldn’t have worn it on the record bid. In view of our<br />

oxygen problems on the previous HALO sorties the<br />

question of whether we should fit barostats (automatic<br />

parachute opening devices - “AOD’s”) to our reserve<br />

‘chutes came up, but most AOD’s were poorly regarded<br />

at the time as on several trials they had pulled the<br />

ripcord D Ring of the reserve chute after the parachutist<br />

had landed! So we didn’t take the idea of AOD’s<br />

seriously for HALO jumping.<br />

To add to the sense of occasion, I invited 30<br />

skydivers at ten dollars a head to come along with us for<br />

a rare cheap leap from 10,000 feet from a Fokker<br />

Friendship, the money to go the Royal North Shore<br />

Hospital Paraplegic Unit. (There was some grumbling<br />

from the fraternity about both the money and my<br />

restricting their altitude to only 10,000 feet, but I felt<br />

that if we went higher for the 30 fun jumpers, there<br />

wouldn’t be enough time to fully oxygenate the three of<br />

us between their exit altitude of 10,000 feet and our<br />

proposed exit altitude at whatever the aeroplane could<br />

attain. It was simply a matter of priorities.) Two weeks<br />

before the jump I asked my older brother David, who<br />

had served as an IO in UNSWR, to fly with East West<br />

Airlines to a recce of the Grafton drop zone on our<br />

behalf and bring back a good field sketch of the<br />

environs – terrain, trees, natural and built hazards etc.<br />

What could go wrong when everything was so well<br />

planned?<br />

So, on a calm and sunny 24th of October 1965, we<br />

all flew from Sydney to Grafton, geared up and took off.<br />

I insisted on personally despatching each of the three<br />

sticks of ten skydivers on three runs at 11,000 feet. The<br />

Fokker’s sliding rear door and the handy airhostess’<br />

phone to the pilot made my jumpmaster’s job a dream.<br />

No NDB’s needed here! I was in form on the day and all<br />

three sticks landed very near the white cross on the<br />

airfield. I enjoyed that very much (“First stick, stand up!”<br />

sort of thing). Then I closed the door, returned to my<br />

seat, went on to the CIG oxygen and the aircraft repressurised.<br />

After we passed through 20,000 feet we<br />

depressurised and awaited the climb to the Fokker’s<br />

absolute ceiling and the pilot’s signal - relayed to us by<br />

Ron Walesby, the Manager of East West Airlines, which<br />

we were soon to commence the dropping run. After the<br />

hypothermia of Cowra the Fokker was cosy and warm,<br />

and the big medical oxygen cylinders with their clearly<br />

calibrated flow meters roped to the seats next to us<br />

worked well. At 31,000 feet, with the Fokker’s rate of<br />

climb right down, Ron signalled to us that we were on<br />

the dropping run - time for us to change over to our little<br />

cylinders, get quickly down to the back door, slide it<br />

open, and jump. Nothing to it. However, my motorcycle<br />

gauntlets did not permit a quick, nimble-fingered<br />

oxygen changeover using Kenny Bath’s male and female<br />

fittings. So, to conserve my seven-minute personal<br />

supply I removed my gauntlets, activated my portable<br />

bang-seat bottle, and disconnected my 12 O’clock High<br />

mask from aircraft supply and plugged into the lowpressure<br />

line from Murphy’s portable bottle. As the male<br />

fitting snapped home, I felt an unexpected whoosh of<br />

air in my oxygen mask. But I could not pause to<br />

investigate this oddity, because Ron was motioning to<br />

us to be on our way to the rear doorway. I put on my<br />

gauntlets, stood up, plodded down the aisle of the<br />

Fokker to the back door and pulled it open. As I did so,<br />

I heard a loud sharp bang, like a double bunger,<br />

followed by another sharp bang. Puzzled, I waited at the<br />

open doorway, but neither Ken nor Robin joined me.<br />

Then Kenny came down the aircraft to the doorway with<br />

the shredded end of his portable bottle’s low-pressure<br />

line in his mouth. This was probably not what one hopes<br />

to see on a well-organised HALO jump. But, recognising<br />

there was nothing that could be done; I held my oxygen<br />

mask firmly to my face and stepped out of the door into<br />

space, Kenny following. Robin Godwin did not join us at<br />

the doorway before we jumped.<br />

We worked out later what had gone wrong. We<br />

hadn’t known that the male and female fittings Kenny<br />

had obtained for us had a one-way non-return valve that<br />

wouldn’t open until the fitting was actually snapped<br />

home. Kenny had made no mention of the one-way<br />

valves – maybe he did not know about them either. The<br />

portable bottles, once activated, had simply built up<br />

pressure behind the one-way valve until the lines<br />

exploded. With the whoosh into my mask I had escaped<br />

by only a few seconds a similar explosion, because, of<br />

the three of us, I was the only one who had happened<br />

to remove his gloves to affect a quick oxygen<br />

changeover. Kenny was lucky in that his line exploded<br />

near his mask and was still long enough to simply put in<br />

his mouth. Robin Godwin was not so fortunate: his line<br />

exploded near his personal bottle lashed to his reserve<br />

parachute and so it wasn’t long enough to reach his<br />

mouth unless he wanted to unhook his reserve ‘chute<br />

and free fall with it under his arm! At 31,000 feet, with<br />

the aircraft depressurised and his free fall personal<br />

oxygen supply unusable, Robin looked down the full<br />

length of the Fokker to see Kenny and myself departing<br />

through the open doorway. Deciding that it was too<br />

good a picnic to miss, Robin got up, oxygen or no<br />

oxygen, charged down the aircraft and out into space.<br />

He reported no ill effects or hypoxia from this, and we<br />

thought it must be good value to be well oxygenated at<br />

high altitude if you can manage it.<br />

My own free fall of 29,000 feet was a mess. The 12<br />

O’clock High mask was again ripped away from my face<br />

by the blast of the free fall. But my quilted nylon jump<br />

suit, while warm enough, had such a low coefficient of<br />

friction with the air that I found it virtually impossible to<br />

stabilise in free fall. I skidded and skated all over the sky<br />

like a beginner on a skating rink. Worse, the suit was far<br />

too big for me, and unimpeded by the three-point<br />

parachute harness the inner suit billowed, concealing<br />

my ripcord handle, which totally disappeared into the<br />

billowing folds of the inner suit. I spent almost the entire<br />

18 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

free fall alternatively looking for the bloody ripcord,<br />

wrestling the oxygen mask back onto my face and<br />

carefully counting the needle of my 10,000 feet<br />

altimeter three times past zero. Interestingly, although it<br />

was still only spring and the pilot recorded an outside air<br />

temperature of minus 67 degrees Fahrenheit at our exit<br />

height of 31,000 feet, I had no sensation of cold<br />

whatsoever on this sortie and neither did the others.<br />

Being warm in the Fokker on the climb had presumably<br />

done the trick. I was also interested to learn from a<br />

friend who was a Professor of Physics at UNSW that<br />

terminal velocity in free fall from that altitude in the<br />

thinner air was probably about 340kph (or, in my<br />

slippery nylon tent, probably 400kph!), and that the<br />

duration of the fall was over two minutes.<br />

So, third time lucky. We had the title. The media<br />

came to the party, WD and HO Wills threw us a big<br />

reception and presented us each with a nice trophy,<br />

suitably inscribed, and all the cigarettes we could<br />

smoke! Our jump had finally beaten the New Zealanders<br />

and our record stood for something like six or seven<br />

years at least, when I think a Victorian team achieved<br />

about 32,000 feet using a Beechcraft King Air. We were<br />

later somewhat galled to learn that at Grafton our pilot<br />

could have possibly got the Fokker even higher. But as<br />

its rate of climb on the dropping run was only 40 feet<br />

per minute (very low indeed) it was not clear what extra<br />

altitude could really have been achieved on that sortie,<br />

short of removing all the seats and stripping the aircraft<br />

of everything removable. Had I known in advance,<br />

though, I would have taken my spanner with me and<br />

assisted in stripping the Fokker.<br />

There was a worthy outcome to our oxygen<br />

problems: later the Australian Parachute Federation<br />

arranged for its members to accompany QANTAS<br />

trainee pilots in the high altitude simulator decom -<br />

pression tank at RAAF Richmond, which I did. Although<br />

it came after the event, the RAAF tank was a valuable<br />

experience of medically controlled hypoxia that I could<br />

heartily recommend to my fellow skydivers. The main<br />

message about hypoxia was that you could feel normal<br />

and confident but at the same time have seriously<br />

impaired judgement and cognition.<br />

Although I subsequently tried hard to break our<br />

altitude record with a night free fall from 38,000 - 40,000<br />

feet, we couldn’t find an affordable, adequate aeroplane<br />

and Grafton was in fact the last of our HALO jumps. We<br />

had learnt a lot about oxygen and its portability, about<br />

combating extreme cold, about the psychology of<br />

performing arduous physical and mental tasks, and - the<br />

hard way - about sound planning and rehearsal,<br />

especially with new equipment. The dollar cost of the<br />

aircraft is probably still a major factor – if you can afford<br />

the right aeroplane then you will be spared the<br />

problems of hypothermia and hypoxia.<br />

Now, I wonder what a 747 costs per hour…?<br />

For the record this is impossible due to the door<br />

opening mechanism on a Boeing 747. Editor<br />

(Cpl) Bruce Horsfield<br />

1 <strong>Commando</strong> Coy, 1958-1962<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 19

ABN: 53 063 211 129<br />

Phone: +61 2 6253 9749<br />

Address: 5/23 Buckland Street<br />

Mitchell, ACT 2911<br />

Website: http://www.jrglobal.com.au<br />

Email: info@jrglobal.com.au<br />

JR Global Logistics is an Australian SME in business since 1993.<br />

We have Security Clearance and specialise in Government Diplomatic<br />

shipments.<br />

As a preferred supplier to DFAT and AFP for logistic services we offer<br />

door to door service in conjunction with our worldwide network of<br />

specialist agents to all missions around the world for both exports<br />

and imports.<br />

Ben Heath, our senior export manager, has many years experience in<br />

the specialist area of handling the movement of Armoured Vehicles all<br />

around the world.<br />

20 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

Regimental Executive Officer Major Lee Mountford,<br />

President of the <strong>Commando</strong> Association Barry Grant,<br />

members of the Association, distinguished guests,<br />

fellow <strong>Commando</strong>s and <strong>Commando</strong> supporters, ladies<br />

and gentlemen, girls and boys, good morning and<br />

thank you for the invitation to address your service this<br />

morning.<br />

I have chosen as my theme for today – Anzac Day –<br />

a day for reflection. What I would like to do in my<br />

address is to briefly describe some of the issues that I,<br />

as a professional soldier of 35 years and a former<br />

<strong>Commando</strong>, think we as Australians should reflect on,<br />

on Anzac Day <strong>2018</strong>.<br />

Firstly it is important that we reflect on the original<br />

Anzacs, those men who 103 years ago this morning, as<br />

part of the 1st Anzac Corps made their gallant landing<br />

at Anzac Cove. Much has been written about the<br />

conduct of the campaign and the legends and myths<br />

that have arisen from it, but to me as a former soldier<br />

they set a standard for bravery, dedication and sacrifice<br />

for following generations of Australian service per son -<br />

nel to aspire to, and if possible emulate.<br />

On Anzac Day we should reflect on the fact that the<br />

landing at Gallipoli was the coming of age of a young<br />

country. In 1915 the young nation Australia was only 14<br />

years old as a federation and for the first time, rather<br />

than representing one of six separate colonies, an<br />

Australian force was formed and had gone to war,<br />

albeit supporting mother England. For a lot of these<br />

young Australians it certainly was also a coming of age<br />

as for most it was their first time overseas and they left<br />

Australia with a strong spirit of adventure and very little<br />

understanding of the challenges of fighting a war. Their<br />

learning curve was going to be very steep but they<br />

certainly did us proud.<br />

On Anzac Day we should also reflect that over our<br />

history our nation has been involved in many conflicts<br />

since that first landing at Gallipoli and in all of them<br />

Australian men and women have made the supreme<br />

sacrifice – in World Wars One and Two, the Korean<br />

War, the Malayan Emergency, confrontation with<br />

Indonesia, Vietnam, the war I served in, and then in so<br />

called peacekeeping operations in the Middle East, in<br />

Cambodia, Somalia, Rwanda, Bougainville, East Timor,<br />

the Solomon Islands and then conflict operations in<br />

Iraq and Afghanistan, the war that a lot of you served<br />

in. We must on Anzac Day remember that there are<br />


COMMANDO MEMORIAL SERVICE <strong>2018</strong><br />

some 102,000 Australians who as a result of war and<br />

conflict will never come home.<br />

As we are gathered here today at the <strong>Commando</strong><br />

Memorial it is important that we, who are part of<br />

Australia’s modern day <strong>Commando</strong>s, reflect on the<br />

original Australian <strong>Commando</strong>s, who during the<br />

Second World War bravely volunteered to be part of a<br />

new group of independent companies formed to con -<br />

duct special <strong>Commando</strong> type operations. For being<br />

part of a special group they were given a special unit<br />

badge, a double diamond that today forms the<br />

backing for our own unit insignia. As with all of our<br />

Second World War soldiers their ranks are thinning but<br />

we must remember how bravely our first <strong>Commando</strong>s<br />

fought, normally against considerably stronger forces,<br />

in PNG and its islands, on East Timor where they are<br />

still fondly remembered for their resistance to the<br />

Japanese occupying force, and on Borneo towards the<br />

end of that War. They obviously left a lasting impres -<br />

sion with the powers that be because, in 1955 some 10<br />

years after the end of World War 2 the Army was being<br />

reorganised and the Australian Government decided<br />

we needed some <strong>Commando</strong>s as part of the new order<br />

of battle. 1st and 2nd <strong>Commando</strong> Companies were<br />

formed and the <strong>Commando</strong> component of our Army<br />

has been steadily growing in numbers ever since.<br />

Those of us who are or have been members of<br />

Special Operations Command should reflect of the fact<br />

that 75 years ago this coming October, Australia<br />

launched its first offensive special operations raid,<br />

Operation Jaywick, when a group of specially selected<br />

and highly trained Defence Force members (not<br />

designated <strong>Commando</strong>s in those days) launched an<br />

attack on the Japanese shipping in Singapore Harbour.<br />

Travelling in the mother ship the Krait and then fol -<br />

boats, the kleppers predecessor, the team were able to<br />

sink 7 major Japanese ships using limpet mines. An<br />

amazing feat. Unfortunately the follow-on operation,<br />

Operation Rimau, was not so successful, but highly<br />

trained Special Forces had shown the Australian<br />

powers that be what they could achieve.<br />

On Anzac Day <strong>2018</strong> we must also reflect that even<br />

without a deployment to a war, our country has nearly<br />

1,700 of its Defence Force personnel from all three<br />

services deployed overseas helping to make our world<br />

and particularly our region a more secure place; in the<br />

Middle East, South Sudan, Egypt, Israel/Lebanon,<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 21

South West Pacific, South China Sea, Southern Indian<br />

Ocean, Iraq, Afghanistan, and on border protection.<br />

On this day we should remember the commitment that<br />

all these personnel are making to world peace, and<br />

pray for their safe return when their tours are com -<br />

pleted.<br />

For those of us who are, or like me, have been<br />

soldiers, we should reflect that 100 years ago next<br />

month Australia’s finest soldier, Lt Gen John Monash<br />

was given command of the Australian Corps, the first<br />

Australian to hold that appointment. From that position<br />

he was able to use his leadership qualities and superior<br />

planning ability to formulate plans for the Battles of<br />

Hamel in July 1918 and Amiens in August that year<br />

which had such an effect on the German Army that by<br />

November they had had enough and an armistice was<br />

signed ending the War. I believe that General Monash<br />

has not been given sufficient recognition by our<br />

country for all he achieved and I do believe that a post -<br />

humous promotion to Field Marshal, as has been<br />

recently proposed, could balance the books, at least a<br />

little.<br />

Ladies and gentlemen, what I have aimed to do this<br />

morning is to give you some food for thought on what<br />

we should all reflect on, on Anzac Day <strong>2018</strong>, principally,<br />

however, on our special day we must remember the<br />

102,000 australians who will never come home. We,<br />

the living, owe them a great debt and on Anzac Day we<br />

must keep them foremost in our thoughts.<br />

Lest we forget.<br />

Thank you for your attention.<br />

BRIG Philip McNamara CSC ESM OAM<br />

Hon Colonel 2nd <strong>Commando</strong> Regt<br />


A Miranda skydiving instructor, who wrapped<br />

himself around a boy to shield him from the full impact<br />

as they plunged to the ground during a freak accident<br />

has been honoured for his bravery.<br />

Antonio (Tony) Rokov 44, a former member of the<br />

2nd <strong>Commando</strong> Regiment at Holsworthy, died in the<br />

tandem diving accident in November 2015, but 14-<br />

year-old Elijah Arranz survived.<br />

Elijah with severe traumatic brain injury but, with<br />

tremendous determination, has learnt to walk and eat<br />

again, is in year 11 at a Canberra college and his goal<br />

is to run the Boston Marathon one day. Mr. Rokov was<br />

posthumously awarded the Star of Courage, the<br />

second highest level of the Australian Bravery Awards,<br />

announced recently.<br />

Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove approved the<br />

decorations.<br />

"On 21 November 2015, the late Mr. Antonio<br />

Rokov shielded a young person during a skydiving<br />

accident near Goulburn in NSW", the award citation<br />

said.<br />

"Mr. Rokov, an experienced skydiving instructor, has<br />

meticulously prepared his equipment prior to<br />

undertaking a tandem skydive near Goulburn Airport.<br />

The weather was calm with wind speeds of<br />

approximately 11 km/h coming from the South.<br />

"Mr. Rokov then briefed a 14-year-old boy who<br />

would be undertaking the tandem skydive with him<br />

and provided reassurance to the boy's anxious family in<br />

the process.<br />

"After a normal takeoff and jump from the plane,<br />

the pair descended.<br />

"When they were approximately 20 meters from the<br />

ground, a freak gust of wind caused their parachute to<br />

collapse and violently fold in half.<br />

Pic courtesy ABC <strong>News</strong><br />

"Mr. Rokov and the boy quickly began to plummet<br />

during which time the boy was flipped horizontally.<br />

"As they approached the ground, Mr. Rokov twisted<br />

his body under the boy and took the full force of the<br />

impact.<br />

"First Aid was administered straight away to both<br />

Mr. Rokov and the boy until emergency services arrived<br />

on the scene."<br />

"Sadly, Mr. Rokov died as a result of his injuries he<br />

sustained. The boy, though, survived the fall."<br />

"By his actions, Mr. Rokov displayed conspicuous<br />

courage."<br />

Mr. Rokov's widow Samantha Rokov told ABC <strong>News</strong><br />

"we would rather have our husband, father, son back,<br />

but to be remembered, that means a lot to us".<br />

"Every single day we're proud of him, that will never<br />

fade."<br />

The couple met when they were teenagers and<br />

have 3 children.<br />

Article courtesy St. George and Sutherland Shire<br />

Leader and Murray Trembath.<br />

22 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

<strong>Commando</strong>s who turned up for the last Reserve Forces Day Parade<br />

Celebrating its 40 th year, Disabled<br />

Wintersport Australia (DWA) is thrilled and<br />

very proud to announce Joany Badenhorst as<br />

its National Ambassador!!<br />

Long time DWA member and volunteer,<br />

Joany is Co-Captain of the <strong>2018</strong> Australian<br />

Winter Paralympic Team.<br />

Currently ranked number one in the<br />

World in Boarder-cross LL-2 Joany was<br />

Australia’s only female Snowboarder at the<br />

<strong>2018</strong> Winter Paralympics!<br />

On accepting her appointment from<br />

DWA President Paul Lamb, Joany said:<br />

“DWA has been a massive part of my<br />

snowboard journey and I’m so supportive of<br />

what they do. It’s a goal of mine to become<br />

more involved as a volunteer and on snow.”<br />

Australian Paralympic Chef de Mission<br />

Nick Dean said: “Joany is a wonderful role<br />

model for young women everywhere and a<br />

fine example of what commitment and<br />

determination can achieve. I congratulate<br />

DWA on 40 years promoting the advance -<br />

ment of participation by people with a<br />

disability in wintersport both in Australia and<br />

overseas.”<br />

DWA and members wish Joany every<br />

success and luck at <strong>2018</strong> Peongchang Winter<br />

Paralympics which begins on March 9th.<br />

Rick Coate<br />

CEO<br />

Disabled Wintersport Australia<br />

Established in 1978 as the Australian<br />

Disabled Skiers Federation, we are now<br />

known as Disabled Wintersport Australia<br />

(DWA). The organisation assists thousands of<br />

individuals with disabilities to participate in<br />

winter sports annually. From its programs<br />

some of the world’s finest alpine skiers have<br />

emerged recording victories at the highest<br />

level of international com pe tition. The<br />

organisation's members range from<br />

recreational skiers to Australia’s Winter<br />

Paralympians.<br />

Mission “To promote and foster the<br />

advancement of participation by people with<br />

a disability in wintersport both in Australia<br />

and overseas.”<br />

Vision “The equality of opportunity for<br />

people with disabilities to participate at all<br />

levels in the winter sport of their choice.”<br />

For more information on Joany please see:<br />

https://www.joanybadenhorst.com/<br />

DWA Promotional Film; Finding Freedom on<br />

the Snow<br />

Linkhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_<br />

RAtuFI59sM<br />

All Media and Corporate Enquiries to CEO<br />

Rick Coate<br />

rcoate@disabledwintersport.com.au<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 23

24 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>


“I love the smell of (burning) Juniper in the morning”<br />

By Jim Truscott<br />

I love to go a-wandering, along the mountain track, and as I go, I love to sing, my knapsack on my<br />

back. Val-deri, Val-dera, Val-deri, Val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Val-deri, Val-dera. My knapsack on my back.<br />

A climber’s lament sung to the tune of I want to be a Khumbu Ranger and live a life of mountain danger!<br />

Huddled together in the pre-dawn with two Sherpas at 6,200 metres and braced against 45 knot winds, David<br />

and I made the decision to turn back at the traverse below the summit. For years I had wanted to do something<br />

dangerous in the mountains with my son. The Sherpas advised that it would be another three hours to reach the<br />

summit, and in the journey from mediocrity to self-fulfilment we had achieved enough pain and frissons of<br />

excitement even if Buddha has set enlightenment at the highest level. We were both suffering from heaving chest<br />

syndrome to the cadence of ‘I must, I must, increase my bust’ and two days later we both still experienced over<br />

exertion of our diaphragm muscles.<br />

It would have been good to have had another day<br />

to go for the summit again but our tight trekking<br />

program did not allow this time. It is all about karma<br />

and maybe Buddha has something else in mind for us.<br />

Were we unlucky? Probably yes as from a climbing<br />

perspective it would have been better if we had<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 25

allowed two days at our High Camp but such is the<br />

challenge of combining climbing and trekking into a<br />

tight schedule. In hindsight and given the snow con -<br />

ditions we probably could have started in daylight after<br />

the wind had dropped. Maybe we should have<br />

checked the weather forecast ourselves.<br />

The WA Family expedition at our High Camp at<br />

5800 metres with jet stream wind blowing off the<br />

summits of Everest and Lhotse (4 th highest).<br />

Makalu (5 th highest) and Cho Oyu (6 th highest) also in view.<br />

It all began a year before when Lisa (D3) asked me<br />

to go to the Himalayas. So one in, all in, and the once<br />

in a lifetime family expedition began to take shape.<br />

Months of physical preparation commenced, although<br />

our local Reabold Hill fell well short of what was to<br />

come. With only one month to go I experienced an ’ah<br />

fuck moment’ at a body pump session in the gym when<br />

I re-ripped my hiatus hernia and my nagging jumpers<br />

left knee was not getting any better. My kingdom for<br />

some pain free knees! Woe was me, so I stocked up on<br />

pain killers for an SAS candy fuelled ascent if necessary,<br />

but it was not to be. Success in the Himalayas is hard<br />

won. My first Himalayan expedition 37 years ago to<br />

Ganesh IV in Nepal had ended in tragedy when our<br />

high camp including me was swept away by an ava -<br />

lanche and I did not summit. On my second Himalayan<br />

expedition to Broad Peak in Pakistan, 33 years ago, I<br />

turned back just short of 8,000 metres due to intense<br />

cold and I did not summit. On my third Himalayan<br />

expedition 31 years ago to Everest I reached the South<br />

Col at 8,000 metres but a subsequent window of<br />

opportunity was negated by jet stream winds. From our<br />

high point on Mera Peak we could see the summit of<br />

Everest and the same strong jet stream winds blowing<br />

into China. On my fourth Himalayan expedition 25<br />

years ago I was lucky to claim the first Australian ascent<br />

of Nanda Devi East in India.<br />

I had not heard of Mera Peak before but its<br />

excellent views of six of the fourteen 8,000 metre<br />

mountains and straight forward climbing made it an<br />

obvious choice. My four children are not diehard<br />

climbers like myself and the instructions from my wife<br />

Colette were “not to kill the children.” Walking the<br />

Kokoda Track the year before was tough but there<br />

needed to be some perception of danger as well. We<br />

needed a tiger for breakfast. It had been 30 years since<br />

I had been to the Himalayas and boy was I out of date<br />

with the abundance of lodges on the walk in. There is<br />

no requirement for Tilman ‘memorable bathes’ any -<br />

more as most lodges have hot showers! Tillman and<br />

Shipton would both roll in their graves as the Internet<br />

of Everything has replaced planning on the back of a<br />

postcard. Indeed Tilman’s programmed no-speaking<br />

days on expeditions have been replaced by social<br />

media surfing at lodges. There are now a plethora of<br />

people climbing and trekking in the Himalayas with 28<br />

lodges and 500 guest beds in Lukla alone! We were<br />

told that there is a veritable Conga line (highway of<br />

zonkey, donkey, cow, yak and human shit) on the track<br />

between Lukla and Everest base camp. There is a<br />

commercial proposition to limit the number of visitors<br />

in each valley and for the government to set higher<br />

rates by a multitude of trekking companies.<br />

After the mandatory steaks at Yak-Donalds and a<br />

visit to funeral pyres and temples in Kathmandu, we<br />

flew to Lukla, the mountain airstrip and entry point to<br />

Sherpa country. We were reminded that it was nak<br />

butter and not yak butter! The walk in to Mera Peak<br />

makes the trek to Everest base camp and parts of the<br />

Baltoro Glacier in Pakistan look like a doddle. We<br />

celebrated a Puja (religious ceremony) with a Lama in a<br />

rock cave on the way in to bless the journey and paid<br />

his fees for enlightenment. At least he has not been<br />

replaced by social media. Climate change has had its<br />

impact over the last 30 years that our Sirdar has been<br />

working in the Inkhu Khola Valley and there are massive<br />

ice-free, rock walls awaiting rock climbers and probably<br />

lots of bolts.<br />

In the end all of our faces were hurting from the<br />

wind and our various bodies were suffering from snoticles,<br />

farting and the risk of follow through, vomiting,<br />

blood in snot, rapid onset of headaches, tight chests,<br />

vertigo, exertion, cracked lips, restless sleep, weird<br />

dreams etc etc. These signs and symptoms were<br />

diffused and offset by vista, vista and more vista, Dal<br />

Bhat, bamboo forests, cheery Sherpani’s (good karma),<br />

Sherpa tea, Sherpa stew, masala tea, bonhomie,<br />

noodles with egg, the crunch-crunch of crampons, the<br />

poke-poke of climbing sticks, Tibetan bread, wifi<br />

equipped mountain huts (called lodges), and by<br />

meeting half of Europe on the track etc etc.<br />

We were ably supported by Cho La Adventures. My<br />

lasting image is of the Cho La cook from High Camp<br />

running down a snow slope with a thermos of hot tea<br />

for us plodders! It is not in our Australian culture for<br />

people to eat separately but we came to accept their<br />

ways. Mingmar our Sirdar was physically strong and he<br />

and his son Phuri had much good humour to put up<br />

with us. They would say “good work”, “enjoy”, “ready<br />

now”, “almost there“, “maybe/maybe not”, “20<br />

minutes”, “close now, “why not” “Nepali flat”, don’t<br />

worry; chicken curry” and “Dal Bhat power, trek for 24<br />

26 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

hours.” The owner, Nima Lama is a Nepali businessman<br />

with noble ideas to improve the lot of porters to<br />

become trek assistants or better. His ‘people-watching’<br />

skills enabled him to adroitly identify the personalities<br />

of my four children. All progeny have explored a little<br />

more about their mind and body. David is a better<br />

father than I, and he was good to his sisters. Jessica<br />

(D1) showed strong minded Irish tendencies. Sarah<br />

(D2) is cautious like her mother and she had to confront<br />

her flying demons. Lisa (D3) is a mountain goat and<br />

Heath increased his confidence. Mountaineering is<br />

90% mental and the other half is physical. Hence<br />

mission (very much) accomplished.<br />

The walkout over a high-pass directly back to Lukla<br />

and requiring instep crampons was challenging to say<br />

the least but the wait at Lukla airport for a scheduled<br />

flight out was a drag until a helicopter became neces -<br />

sary to fly back to Kathmandu in order to catch our<br />

international flight. Sitting beside the Lukla airstrip was<br />

akin to all those wasted years of parachuting at drop<br />

zones or biding your time in War Zone D. Listening to<br />

Lukla airport was like being on the USS Carl Vinson in<br />

the Gulf but with Nepali navy pilots. The airport was<br />

crazier than Mumbai; wonderfully chaotic as three<br />

planes must fly together in two 3-plane sorties for air<br />

separation safety in the mountain clouds. By chance I<br />

spoke briefly with the legendary Reinhold Messner in<br />

the lounge at Katmandu airport. He was the first man<br />

to climb Everest without oxygen in 1978 and it was a<br />

fitting, rohmro (great) and symbolic end to our trip. I<br />

must get on with my plan to climb a mountain every<br />

year until the day I die; live, climb, repeat. Om mani<br />

padme hum.<br />

Four Rules for Khumbu Rangers<br />

• Don’t get sick<br />

• Climb to climb again another day<br />

• Climb with Social Media (suck it up Tilman)<br />

• Additional maxim. If you are cold put a hat on.<br />

Jim Truscott is a climber who pretended to be in the<br />

army for 26 years. He has gone on multiple expeditions<br />

in the jungles, seas, oceans and mountains of the<br />

world. You could hear the sighs of relief in Canberra<br />

Headquarters when he left the green machine. David,<br />

Jessica, Sarah and Lisa Truscott were all army brats and<br />

they used to run amok at Fort Gellibrand and in Camp -<br />

bell Barracks. David Truscott is now a part time Q’y in<br />

6 Squadron.<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 27

28 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

Chief of Army bans soldiers from wearing<br />

'arrogant' death symbols<br />

Australia's Chief of Army, Lieutenant General<br />

Angus Campbell, has issued a directive that prohibits<br />

the wearing of 'death' symbols. Lieutenant General<br />

Campbell said the practice was arrogant, illconsidered<br />

and that it eroded the ethos of the Army.<br />

The directive was circulated as an internal minute on<br />

April 17, and later posted to unofficial social media<br />

pages for commentary.<br />

Several symbols were specifically prohibited<br />

because of their violent, murderous and vigilante<br />

symbolism including the Grim Reaper, the Skull and<br />

Crossbones, Spartans, and the Phantom or Punisher.<br />

Lieutenant General Campbell, who this week was<br />

named as the next Chief of the Defence, stated in his<br />

order that he had come across the symbols worn as<br />

patches or badges while visiting army units in<br />

Australia and overseas. He reiterated that such<br />

symbols were at odds with Army values while<br />

acknowledging this was not the intention of those<br />

who wore them.<br />

"Such symbology is never presented as illintentioned<br />

and plays too much of modern popular<br />

culture," Lieutenant General Campbell said. "But it is<br />

always ill-considered and implicitly encourages the<br />

inculcation of an arrogant hubris and general<br />

disregard for the most serious responsibility of our<br />

profession; the legitimate and discriminate take of life.<br />

"As soldiers our purpose is to serve the state,<br />

employing violence with humility always and<br />

compassion wherever possible. This symbology to<br />

which I refer erodes this ethos of service."<br />

ABC North Qld<br />

By David Chen<br />

A member of Iraq's elite Special Forces wears a skull mask<br />

in the fight against the Islamic State in 2016.<br />

(AP: Khalid Mohammed ~ Courtesy ABC North Qld)<br />

In the directive, Army officers were ordered to take<br />

immediate action to remove any formal or informal<br />

symbols from within their command. Lieutenant<br />

General Campbell acknowledged the decision would<br />

upset a minority of soldiers.<br />

"I appreciate that without explanation some will<br />

rile at this direction, so please ensure my reasoning is<br />

explained but be clear that I am adamant that this is<br />

right for the Army." "I wish to reiterate that the use of<br />

symbology/iconography is uncommon within Army.<br />

The overwhelming majority of force elements are very<br />

much on the right path," he said.<br />

When approached by the ABC the Department of<br />

Defence issued the fol -<br />

lowing short statement: The<br />

Chief of Army issued an<br />

internal minute to all<br />

Commanders on 17 April,<br />

<strong>2018</strong> to reinforce that all<br />

symbols, emblems and<br />

iconography used across the<br />

organisation must align with<br />

the Army values of courage,<br />

initiative, respect and team -<br />

work. Death symbol ogy<br />

demonstrates a general dis -<br />

regard for the most serious<br />

responsibility of the Army's<br />

profession; the legitimate<br />

and discriminate taking of<br />

life.<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 29

Michael Parker Foundation<br />

Kshamawati Hostel Project, Nepal<br />

In late 2017 my partner Drew Gordon and I under -<br />

took a very special journey to a remote area of Nepal<br />

to experience an extraordinary welcome and celeb -<br />

ration.<br />

In 2009 the beloved eldest son of Bruce & Gail<br />

Parker and brother to Amy & Dan passed away un -<br />

expectedly in Kathmandu after having just summited<br />

Makalu. At 8500m, Makalu is considered far more<br />

difficult than Everest, a mountain Mick was determined<br />

to conquer after a previous disaster a few years prior.<br />

Michael was a climber and adventurer who managed to<br />

summit five of the Himalayas’ 8,000m peaks and<br />

attempt eight others, including Everest from the north.<br />

This was even more remarkable given that he climbed<br />

without oxygen.<br />

Drew and I knew Michael personally with fond<br />

memories as a trek companion on the Kokoda Track as<br />

well as a periodic running companion around the hills<br />

of Warrandyte. Mick was a little quirky and always did<br />

things in his own quiet way.<br />

Before Mick passed away he had indicated that he<br />

would like to give back to the people of Nepal with<br />

whom he had such a bond. He dreamed about<br />

supporting schoolchildren whose remoteness and<br />

family circumstances prevented them from gaining an<br />

education.<br />

And so the Michael Parker Foundation (MPF) was<br />

formed by his mother and father – Gail & Bruce as well<br />

as his younger siblings Dan & Amy to honour the life of<br />

Mick and to provide disadvantaged Nepalese children<br />

with educational opportunities.<br />

In 2015 with the generous assistance of World<br />

Expeditions Foundation (WEF), a landmark project was<br />

proposed.<br />

The Kshamawati Higher Secondary School is<br />

located some 150km north east of Kathmandu in the<br />

beautiful Kalinchok hills. It has about 420 students and<br />

was founded in 1947. The local Kshamawati village<br />

consists of 85% Thamis people<br />

who are a highly marginalised<br />

ethnic group. With 90% of this<br />

com munity living below the<br />

poverty line and 78% of the people illiterate it seemed<br />

that a residential hostel attached to the school would<br />

be ideal to assist needy students to concentrate on<br />

their education with the attention and guidance of<br />

teachers.<br />

The proposed hostel was to be a 2-storey stone<br />

building with a girls’ wing on one side, a boys’ wing on<br />

the other and a service and study area in the middle.<br />

Each wing would have 10 dormitories over 2 floors and<br />

would accommodate up to 240 students. The service<br />

section in the middle will have a kitchen and dining<br />

hall. The building would have biomass toilets and solar<br />

water heaters. The building would be built locally using<br />

brick, stone, mud mortar and local timber with earth -<br />

quake resistant technology.<br />

In 2015, Rob Prior, one of the six Trustees of the<br />

MPF, travelled to Nepal to assist in the initial building<br />

of the hostel. Shortly after his visit, Nepal experienced<br />

an earthquake which was particularly devastating to the<br />

people of the area in which the hostel is being built.<br />

Although the hostel foundations were not badly<br />

affected, the school and neighbouring village was<br />

impacted upon. As the hostel is being built by local<br />

craftsmen, the earthquake had a major impact on the<br />

progress of the building.<br />

Some two-and-a-half years after the earthquake,<br />

Drew and I were given the opportunity to represent the<br />

MPF and to visit the Michael Parker Hostel.<br />

The hostel building is being coordinated and<br />

supervised by a very impressive alumni group con -<br />

sisting of an architect, past students and principals as<br />

well as leading Nepalese business people with diverse<br />

international experience and education.<br />

After travelling 150km for 8 hours in a 4-wheel drive<br />

Students assembled for the opening of the<br />

Michael Parker Hostel<br />

Girls’ Hostel building in progress<br />

30 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

on very challenging roads from Kathmandu, then a 1km<br />

walk to the Kshamawati Hostel, we understood the<br />

remoteness of the hostel. We also understood how<br />

difficult it could be for children to get to school<br />

regularly.<br />

On our arrival at the school we were totally over -<br />

whelmed by the greeting offered by students, the<br />

Alumni and officials. We were given a very ceremo -<br />

nious welcome with speeches, dancing and the official<br />

cutting of the opening ribbon.<br />

We were given a guided tour of the hostel and were<br />

very pleased to see the ongoing progress. Bunkrooms<br />

were completed and were about to be furnished with<br />

beds and lockers with a goal to have initial female<br />

students accommodated early in <strong>2018</strong>.<br />

Since our visit, the Chairman of the Kshamawati<br />

Michael Parker Foundation Alumni has informed us<br />

that the hostel is now housing 33 female students on a<br />

trial basis for 3 months. This will give the girls the<br />

opportunity to concentrate on their studies for their<br />

upcoming exams. A teacher has been assigned as a<br />

Warden and an all-important experienced cook has<br />

been engaged to look after the girls.<br />

Work is progressing on the boys’ wing and they will<br />

be occupying their accommodation in the near future.<br />

We were very excited to be present for the opening<br />

of this important project and know that Michael in his<br />

own quiet way would have been thrilled that his legacy<br />

lives on.<br />

For information on how to donate to the MPF or to<br />

purchase a copy of Spirit High - the Michael Parker<br />

Story, go to www.michaelparkerfoundation.org.au<br />

Official opening and dedication to Michael Parker<br />

The first group of students to be accommodated in the<br />

Hostel<br />


An oldie but a goodie from PTS Nowra when I did my course.<br />

"Check equipment" the dispatcher cries<br />

And the Lord's prayer is lost in "Centre pack ties"<br />

The static line is held is held in one clammy hand<br />

And your gear is held on by one "lackey band"<br />

Your mouth is dry and you need to throw up<br />

But your helmets on and your mouth is clamped<br />

shut.<br />

"Actions Stations" the cry is clear<br />

But right - left - right won't hide your fear.<br />

Oh God be a pal<br />

And save me from a total "mal"<br />

But before there is time to ponder<br />

The orders there, "stand in the door!"<br />

From all sides there comes advice<br />

"feet together or pay the price"<br />

The green light is on, the word is GO!<br />

Hand quits static line and "oh no no no"<br />

You're falling now and you start to scream<br />

As you're whirled around in the old slip stream.<br />

With your eyes tight shut and head down and pray<br />

And a voice that's yours squeaks "Canopy OK"<br />

But the rigging lines, oh God what to do?<br />

Is it the kicking method or stirring for you?<br />

You've forgotten observation so steering next<br />

So it's three big pulls and time for a rest<br />

No fool you must pull down<br />

It's only 50 feet from you to the ground<br />

Front side or back, it depends on the sway<br />

Knees and feet together, elbows in is the way<br />

The ground rushes, it's a sicken sight<br />

You decide to do a back left and do a side right<br />

You lie there and think you are dead<br />

When a voice hollers out "what's your name<br />

dickhead".<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 31

Leaving the ADF<br />

At some point in their career, all ADF members will<br />

leave the military and transition to civilian life. It’s a<br />

significant decision that can involve your family.<br />

Planning early will make sure you’re informed and<br />

ready to enter the next phase of your life.<br />

You must complete your transition with ADF<br />

Transition Support Services so you understand the<br />

process, your administrative requirements, and the<br />

support available to you. We encouage you to involve<br />

your family throughout your transition experience.<br />

Transition support network<br />

Transitioning to civilian life is a shared responsibility.<br />

When you decide to leave the ADF you should engage<br />

with your family, your Unit, and ADF Transition Support<br />

Services.<br />

Your Unit can speak to you about the transition<br />

process and connect you with your local ADF Transition<br />

Centre. Your Centre will introduce you to a Transition<br />

Support Officer who will help you and your family<br />

through the transition process and:<br />

• provide you with an individual transition plan<br />

• offer career coaching during your transition and<br />

up to 12 months afterwards<br />

• help you meet your administrative requirements<br />

• help you leave with all documentation like<br />

service, medical, and training records<br />

• facilitate connections to Defence and govern -<br />

ment support services<br />

nationally throughout the year. You’ll receive<br />

information from Defence and other organisaitons on<br />

topics like finance and superannuation, health,<br />

relocating, employment, and ex-service organisation<br />

support.<br />

ADF Member and Family Transition Guide<br />

The ADF Member and Family Transition Guide – A<br />

Practical Manual to Transitioning contains detailed<br />

information on the transition process for ADF<br />

members. The Guidce includes information on support<br />

services and administrative reuqirement. It includes<br />

checklists to help you navigate transition process.<br />

ADF Transition Seminar<br />

You and your family can attend an ADF Transition<br />

Serminar at any time during your ADF career to help<br />

you prepare for your transition. Seminars are held<br />

32 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 33

Did you know?<br />

You can get your scripts<br />

filled ONLINE<br />

Private Convenient Easy<br />




www.pharmacydirect.com.au<br />

34 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>


Leadership Secrets of the<br />

Australian Army<br />

Brigadier Nicholas Jans (Retired) OAM<br />

Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, <strong>2018</strong><br />

Reviewed by Jim Truscott<br />

I was drawn by the catchy title as I have spent<br />

eighteen years as a consultant providing leadership<br />

mentoring and management advice to multinational<br />

and national corporations in 41 countries, preceded<br />

by twenty-six years as a strategic group manager and<br />

leader of operational teams in high-risk international<br />

engagements. Having held six command appoint -<br />

ments in operational Army units I was to find that the<br />

title is a misnomer as there is really nothing secretive<br />

about leadership in the military or business.<br />

Written in a similar vein to Donald Krause’s Sun Tzu<br />

The Art of War for Executives (1996) and as well as<br />

Stanley Bing’s Sun Tzu Was a Sissy, The Real Art of<br />

War (2006) it caused me to reflect on my own<br />

leadership and management experiences in business<br />

and in the military. The book is as much about<br />

followership as it is leadership and the text reminded<br />

me very much of my own leadership training at<br />

Duntroon in the mid-1970s by bemedalled instructors.<br />

Nick Jans coins the Captain-Coach model which is<br />

authoritative, but affiliative and egalitarian as the basis<br />

of the Army’s success with leadership as the catalyst.<br />

He author further uses the Mission-Team-Me construct<br />

to describe an underpinning ethos in the military<br />

similar to the perhaps more simplistic ‘individual<br />

needs, groups needs and goal’ model inculcated in<br />

my cohort in the mid-1970s. Did these new words just<br />

repeat the older ethos in another way? There was<br />

really nothing new (to me) but the thesis is presented<br />

in a much more practical way as it is full of con -<br />

tempora neous gems much better than a bland<br />

leadership pamphlet.<br />

The basis of the ‘secrets’ is the central theme and<br />

separate chapters on each of the 3-Rs of representing,<br />

relating and running the team and their apparent<br />

liking to success in business through many examples<br />

of people who have worked in both spheres.<br />

Representing is just leading by example, doing the<br />

right thing, giving direction and meaning, and<br />

manage ment by walking around. Relating is<br />

supportive people management, knowing your<br />

troops, subor dinates to you but no less important,<br />

coaching and counselling, being firm and fair but not<br />

friendly. Running the team is to be good at the basics,<br />

delegation and sensible autonomy, mission command<br />

and post mortems. Essentially ethos, professional<br />

practice and teamwork underpin the described<br />

leader ship code of practice.<br />

I was challenged by the author’s statement that not<br />

everything that the military does has a civilian parallel<br />

but that there are more similarities than realized. The<br />

reality is that it is easier to motivate and organize in<br />

the military than it is in business as there is a basis of<br />

trust in the military. In business, trust only exists within<br />

the confines of a contract and even then it is a<br />

completely different battlefield as loyalty does not<br />

exist in business other than to one’s self. Leadership is<br />

only a necessity in business in crisis situations where<br />

there is uncertainty and risk (of failure) in abundance<br />

otherwise leadership in normal business is more akin<br />

to guerrilla warfare where there are constantly shifting<br />

allegiances. Furthermore business is a war where you<br />

sleep with the enemy every day. The (business) war<br />

goes on and on and on and there is nothing you can<br />

do to stop it except fight in it until either you or it is<br />

done. Business is not like war in this one critical<br />

aspect. Unlike military operations there is no end to<br />

business. People die, only to pop up again in another<br />

location. You win on Friday and then you loose on<br />

Monday.<br />

All of that said it is an easy to read leadership<br />

descanter for anyone seeking to take charge be they<br />

a digger spokesperson or a doyen in business.<br />

Leaders and followers will find this book equally of<br />

value as the author rightly says, the more you know<br />

about it, the better you will go.<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 35

Recognising and acting to repair traumatic stress injury<br />

By Prof Zachary Steel, St John of God Professorial Chair<br />

for Trauma and Mental Health<br />

Human beings are equipped with innate response<br />

systems optimised to support and maximise the capacity of<br />

individuals to respond effectively when faced with extreme<br />

threat, danger and moral burden. The work of special forces<br />

service members will result in these processes being placed<br />

under enormous challenge and stress at times. It appears to<br />

be a normal human response following exposure to an<br />

especially traumatic or troubling incident that an individual<br />

will experience heighted emotional reactivity and a range of<br />

intrusive reminders of the incident. These processes may well<br />

be critical in assisting humans to down-regulate the stress<br />

response system and allow a return to functioning after such<br />

a critical incident. Training, institutional support and event<br />

preparation can support the capacity of individuals to endure<br />

such incidents and to operate effectively under high stress<br />

and threat environments.<br />

It is when these such post-incident reactions endure and<br />

fail to settle or subside over a reasonable amount of time<br />

leading to reduced functioning that a traumatic stress injury<br />

may have occurred. Loss of functioning associated with a<br />

traumatic stress injury may be most apparent in life outside of<br />

the service environment where the stress-response reactions<br />

are more clearly incosistent with everyday life activities. While<br />

such injuries may recover without specialist treatment,<br />

evidence suggests that a substantial proportion of such<br />

injuries will endure for prolonged periods of time depleting<br />

an individual’s resources and capacities leading to disability.<br />

Research suggests 3 important facts about such con -<br />

ditions:<br />

(1) there is no absolute immunity from acquiring a traumatic<br />

stress injury including amongst highly trained, capable<br />

individuals;<br />

(2) the risk of acquiring such an injury increases with the<br />

number of exposures, severity and intensity of traumatic<br />

incidents;<br />

(3) there are treatments that have demonstrated a capacity<br />

to reduce the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder<br />

and restore functional capacity.<br />

If you, or those close to you, believe you have sustained<br />

a traumatic stress injury that is not resolving as you would<br />

like, it may be time to reach out for assessment and treat -<br />

ment.<br />

There are a number specialist hospitals and clinics in<br />

Australia that specialize in working with currently and exserving<br />

defence personal who have experienced traumatic<br />

stress injuries (see list of services at http://phoenix -<br />

australia.org/recovery/veterans-ptsd-programs/). St John of<br />

God Richmond Hospital has been a leading treatment facility<br />

for service-related PTSD for more than 20 years. We can help<br />

link you to doctors and clinicians able to work with you to<br />

understand the nature of your injury and to work with you to<br />

develop a treatment and recovery plan.<br />

36 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>


A little history most people will never know.<br />

Interesting Veterans Statistics off the Vietnam<br />

Memorial Wall in the US.<br />

There are 58,267 names now listed on that<br />

polished black wall, including those added in 2010.<br />

The names are arranged in the order in which they<br />

were taken from us by date and within each date the<br />

names are alphabetised. It is hard to believe it is 61<br />

years since the first casualty.<br />

• The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon,<br />

of North Weymouth, Mass. Listed by the U.S.<br />

Depart ment of Defense as having been killed on<br />

June 8, 1956. His name is listed on the Wall with that<br />

of his son, Marine Corps LCpl Richard B. Fitzgibbon<br />

III, who was killed on Sept. 7, 1965.<br />

• There are three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.<br />

• 39,996 on the Wall were just 22 or younger.<br />

• 8,283 were just 19 years old.<br />

• The largest age group, 33,103 were 18 years old.<br />

• 12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.<br />

• 5 soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old.<br />

• One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock was 15 years old.<br />

• 997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam.<br />

• 1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in<br />

Vietnam.<br />

• 31 sets of brothers are on the Wall.<br />

• Thirty one sets of parents lost two of their sons.<br />

• 54 soldiers attended Thomas Edison High School in<br />

Philadelphia. I wonder why so many from one school<br />

• 8 Women are on the Wall, Nursing the wounded.<br />

• 244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor<br />

during the Vietnam War; 153 of them are on the Wall<br />

Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475 lost 6 of<br />

her sons.<br />

• West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per<br />

capita in the nation.<br />

• There are 711 West Virginians on the Wall.<br />

• The Marines of Morenci - They led some of the<br />

scrappiest high school football and basketball teams<br />

that the little Arizona copper town of Morenci (pop<br />

5,058) had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed<br />

roaring beer busts. In quieter moments, they rode<br />

horses along the Coronado Trail, stalked deer in the<br />

Apache National Forest. And in the patriotic<br />

camaraderie typical of Morenci's mining families, the<br />

nine graduates of Morenci High enlisted as a group<br />

in the Marine Corps. Their service began on<br />

Independence Day, 1966. Only 3 returned home.<br />

• The Buddies of Midvale - LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy<br />

Martinez, Tom Gonzales were all boyhood friends<br />

and lived on three consecutive streets in Midvale,<br />

Utah on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. They lived<br />

only a few yards apart. They played ball at the<br />

adjacent sandlot ball field. And they all went to<br />

Vietnam. In a span of 16 dark days in late 1967, all<br />

three would be killed. LeRoy was killed on<br />

Wednesday, Nov. 22, the fourth anniversary of John<br />

F. Kennedy's assassination. Jimmy died less than 24<br />

hours later on Thanksgiving Day. Tom was shot dead<br />

assaulting the enemy on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor<br />

Remembrance Day.<br />

• The most casualty deaths for a single day was on<br />

January 31, 1968 ~ 245 deaths.<br />

• The most casualty deaths for a single month was<br />

May 1968 - 2,415 casualties were incurred.<br />

For most Americans who read this they will only see<br />

the numbers that the Vietnam War created. To those of<br />

us who survived the war, and to the families of those<br />

who did not, we see the faces, we feel the pain that<br />

these numbers created. We are, until we too pass<br />

away, haunted with these numbers, because they were<br />

our friends, fathers, husbands, wives, sons and<br />

daughters.There are no noble wars, just noble<br />

warriors.<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 37

Australian Defence Force Academy<br />

Sports and Voluntary Extra Curricular Clubs<br />

ADFA offers a range of sporting and voluntary extra-curricular clubs (VECCS) for cadets, encouraging them<br />

to compete against and become involved with local and interstate organisations.<br />

Sporting Clubs and VECCs currently offered at ADFA include:<br />

• Adventure Training<br />

• Academy Bands<br />

• Academy Board Riders<br />

• Anglers<br />

• Aviation Interest<br />

• Australian Football League<br />

• Basketball<br />

• Catholics and Friends<br />

• Cricket<br />

• Crossfit<br />

• Community Service VECC<br />

• Cyber Security<br />

• Cycling<br />

• Debating<br />

• DJ VECC<br />

• Fencing<br />

• Flying Disc Association<br />

• FOCUS<br />

• Hockey<br />

• LGBTI<br />

• Marathon and Distance<br />

Running Club<br />

• Maritime Interest<br />

• Military History<br />

• Military Shooting VECC<br />

• Military Skills<br />

• Motorcycle VECC<br />

• Navigators<br />

• Netball<br />

• Performing Arts<br />

• Photography<br />

• Precision Drill Team<br />

• Rowing<br />

• Rugby<br />

• Rugby League<br />

• SAE<br />

• Sailing<br />

• Small Balls Interest Group<br />

• Soccer<br />

• Squash<br />

• Strength & Conditioning<br />

• Swimming<br />

• Tae Kwon Do<br />

• Tennnis<br />

• Touch Football<br />

• Triathlon<br />

• Unmanned Aerial Vehicles<br />

• Volleyball<br />

• Water Polo<br />

• 4x4 VECC<br />

For more information go to<br />

www.defence.gov.au/ADFA/ CadetLife/Sport.asp<br />

38 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

The Positive Relationship between<br />

Physical Activity and PTSD<br />

Exercise has a positive clinical<br />

effect on depressive symptoms and<br />

may be as effective as psychological<br />

or pharmaceutical therapies for some<br />

individuals with PTSD. Rosebaum et<br />

al, 2014 suggests Physical<br />

activity/exercise is a highly effective<br />

method in reducing symptoms of<br />

depression and for people<br />

experiencing other mental health<br />

disorders.<br />

Evidence demonstrates that an<br />

appropriate exercise intervention can<br />

achieve significant benefits to<br />

symptoms, depression, anxiety and<br />

stress, changes in body shape and<br />

sedentary time associated with<br />

PTSD, and non-significant trends for<br />

sleep quality improvement according<br />

to Rosenbaum, 20<strong>13</strong>.<br />

The associated symptoms and the<br />

improvements may be related to<br />

psychosocial benefits of the<br />

intervention, rather than functional<br />

capacity, but there is also a strong<br />

empirical (observational) link<br />

between improvements in functional<br />

capacity and psychological status<br />

according to the author, 2016.<br />

People with PTSD are four times as<br />

likely to have type 2 diabetes<br />

(Lukaschek et al, 20<strong>13</strong>) and rates of<br />

overweight and obesity are as high<br />

as 92%. To add to these statistics,<br />

suffers of PTSD are shown to be<br />

less physically active due to a<br />

number of factors including pain,<br />

dysfunctional and general lack of<br />

desire or both, according Boscarino<br />

et al, 2004.<br />

Adding some form of regular<br />

physical activity can have a<br />

significant effect on a sufferer of<br />

PTSD. It’s important to note, the type<br />

of activity doesn’t matter, what<br />

matters is that the person is moving<br />

and also having fun doing it. If you<br />

would like to become physically<br />

active again and help to combat<br />

some of your PTSD related<br />

symptoms then please consult your<br />

GP and discuss your options for<br />

referral to another health care<br />

professional (exercise physiologist or<br />

physiotherapist) for help with your<br />

other associated or co-morbid<br />

conditions ie lower back pain,<br />

arthritis and or obesity.<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 39

Phone Mike Keenan ~ 07 4634 4012 • Email: mickyk03@hotmail.com<br />


No Capital Cost / One month’s notice to terminate<br />


SHARES AVAILABLE in following leases<br />

Colt (see photo) by<br />


TRIESTE going to<br />


(Melbourne)<br />

Filly by<br />


going to BJORN BAKER<br />

(Warwick Farm)<br />

Filly by OLYMPIC GLORY/ BEZZERA going to<br />

CLARE CUNNINGHAM(Warwick Farm)<br />

For details – email Graeme at Thoroughbred Leasing<br />

graeme@thoroughbredleasing.com.au<br />

Phone: 0407 948483<br />



40 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 41

- A Welcome Breakthrough in Upper Limb Prosthetics<br />

When it comes to multi-articulating upper limb<br />

prosthetics, there have been some great achievements,<br />

but also mixed results.<br />

The engineering challenges are many, with chief amongst<br />

them being the robustness and therefore the real<br />

practicality and usefulness of the hand for the end user.<br />

About 6 years ago, due to breaking both his wrists in a<br />

biking accident, engineer Mathew Jury became<br />

acquainted with what it's like to lose the use of a limb.<br />

Thus began an obsession to create a multi-articulating<br />

prosthetic that would dramatically overcome the<br />

weaknesses he clearly saw plaguing the current design<br />

solutions on offer.<br />

He recognised that currently available myo-electric hands<br />

have two key deficiencies - water resistance and<br />

robustness.<br />

Following three years of burning midnight oil and two 3D<br />

printers later, the real breakthroughs began to emerge.<br />

Mathew knew he was on to something very promising.<br />

Mathew gathered a multi-talented team around him, and<br />

a growing resource of contractors. With funding for<br />

research and development TASKA(tm) moved from<br />

prototype to reality. Today the TASKA(tm) team share the<br />

same mission:<br />

"We are all driven by the same thing. Developing a<br />

prosthetic hand that is not just a little better, but hugely<br />

better. For us innovation has never been about creating a<br />

piece of new technology - it is all about delivering real life<br />

practicality that improves people's lives."<br />

Well known and accomplished Australian Orthopaedic<br />

Surgeon, Dr Nick Hartnell, has extensive knowledge in<br />

this area of traumatic injury and he sees enormous<br />

advantages in the TASKA hand.<br />

The precision design and engineering of TASKA(tm) has<br />

made simple what is not in other models. The control<br />

system and the hand mechanism have been made as<br />

practical as possible so you can do more tasks. You can<br />

choose to change grips by hitting a button on the back of<br />

the prosthetic hand as well as traditional EMG methods.<br />

The multi-articulating hand mechanism is flexible yet<br />

tough in a way that sets it apart. Its open grasp is wide so<br />

you can pick up more objects. Its grip speed is impressive<br />

- AND, it's waterproof.<br />

This kind of precision engineering opens the door for<br />

practical people to complete many more tasks inside and<br />

outside.<br />

The TASKA hand stores more than 20 Grip patterns.<br />

However, most day-to-day activities can be performed<br />

using just a small set of 3 frequent-use grips:<br />


GRIP.<br />

Dr Hartnell operates out of Bowral, NSW and can be<br />

contacted for further information via email:<br />

nick@bonesurgeon.com.au<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 43


– EST. 1982 –<br />

Australiaʼs first choice for Flags & Poles<br />

02 6280 4166 • 0419 405 273<br />

www.australianflag.biz<br />

Earn up to $3,300+ net p/w. Home based.<br />

All existing concrete is a job waiting for your services.<br />

• Flexible hours • Guaranteed work<br />

• Inside & outside jobs<br />

• Customer contracts<br />

• Easy proven systems to follow<br />

Security with Australia’s<br />

Largest and Oldest Network.<br />

Be your own boss with<br />

Spray Pave Australia P/L Est 1991<br />

FREE CALL 1800 688 888<br />

www.spraypave.com<br />

www.onlinetrophyshop.com.au<br />

The Devil’s Ride<br />

around Tasmania<br />

February 9th - March 17th 2019<br />

1775 kms in 34 days<br />

with…<br />

Stage One: Devonport to Hobart (The East Coast Route)<br />

Feb 9th to Feb 25th 2019<br />

Stage Two: Hobart to Devonport (Into the Hills)<br />

Feb 28 to March 17th 2019<br />

• Join us for this fabulous trip around Tassie<br />

• Do one stage or do both<br />

• Small friendly cycling groups • Limited vacancies<br />

• Discount available for early bird bookings<br />

Visit: www.cycleacrossoz.com.au<br />

Email: cycleacrossoz15@hotmail.com<br />

Phone:<br />

(03) 9583 5414<br />

Email: sales@onlinetrophyshop.com<br />

Phone: <strong>13</strong>00 787 861<br />



44 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

Australian <strong>Commando</strong> Association<br />

QLD Inc.<br />

www.acaq.org.au<br />

PO Box 185, Sherwood QLD 4075<br />


1941 - 1946 1955 -<br />

President: Nick Hill Secretary: Tony Mills Treasurer: George Mialkowski<br />

president.acaq@gmail.com secretary.acaq@gmail.com treasurer.acaq@gmail.com<br />


The <strong>News</strong>letter Of The Australian <strong>Commando</strong> Association<br />

Queensland<br />

ISSUE 005 MARCH MAY <strong>2018</strong><br />

PRESIDENT – Mr Nick Hill, VICE PRESIDENT – Mr Tony Mills<br />

SECRETARY – Mr Graham Gough, TREASURER – Mr Wayne Douglas, SOCIAL MEMBER – Mr Mark Stanieg,<br />

SOCIAL MEDIA ADMIN – Mr John Roxburgh, COMMITTEE MEMBERS – Mr Keith Buck & Mr Mick Slattery,<br />

DVA ADVOCATE – Mr Paul Copeland, OAM. DVA WELFARE OFFICER – Mr Glenn Cochrane, OAM.<br />

GP – Dr Kieran McCarthy, Psychologist – Ms Megan Fry, PADRE – Padre Michael Polkington<br />

VICE PATRON – Mr Doug Baird, father of the late CPL Cameron Baird, VC. MG. of 2nd Cdo Regt<br />

Web Address – www.commando.org.au Postal Address – PO Box 185 Sherwood, QLD 4075,<br />

Email - secretary.acaq@gmail.com<br />



Welcome to the latest edition of our<br />

quarterly newsletter, “STRIKE SWIFTLY &<br />

WITHOUT WARNING”, the <strong>News</strong>letter of<br />

the Australian <strong>Commando</strong> Association Queensland.<br />

This quarter has seen the Association take a break<br />

over the Xmas and New Year Periods and we had our<br />

AGM & first meeting for 2017 on Sunday 11 February<br />

where we elected a new Executive Committee.<br />

Congratulations to all those who were elected or reelected.<br />

We are busily preparing for this year’s events<br />

and a detailed list is located on page 28. We do hope<br />

that, as many of you are able to attend this year’s<br />

events. The Treasurer and I have sent out renewal<br />

notices for membership. Thus far we only have 36 out<br />

of a possible 75 who have paid their dues. If you<br />

haven’t paid your fees for <strong>2018</strong> please do so ASAP.<br />

Your membership allows us to assist with events and<br />

organise things for you.<br />

ANZAC Day Dawn services were held across the<br />

State and one of our Committee Members, Mick<br />

Slattery, conducted a Dawn Service on board an oilrig<br />

platform off the North West Shelf of WA. I had the<br />

privilege of laying one of the original QCA wreaths at<br />

the Dawn service in Canungra. There was small turn out<br />

for the ANZAC Day March in Brisbane with a few new<br />

faces as well as 96 yr. old WW2 <strong>Commando</strong> Cec<br />

O’Brien who refused to get in a buggy (to the absolute<br />

annoyance to the ANZAC Day organisers), and<br />

marched all the way, well done Cec! After the march a<br />

luncheon was held with the RMAQ at the Maritime<br />

Museum in Southbank. Next year we are looking at<br />

having a luncheon in Southbank after the March. We<br />

will be starting up our <strong>Commando</strong> Luncheons again<br />

and the first one for <strong>2018</strong> will be on Sunday 27 May in<br />

Southbank, details to follow.<br />

In September we will be conducting <strong>Commando</strong>s<br />

Return (Timor Awakening) again, which will be a return<br />

to Timor Leste available for those who have served our<br />

nation as a <strong>Commando</strong> or the family member of a<br />

<strong>Commando</strong> who unfortunately is no longer with us.<br />

The Expression of Interest will be attached to this<br />

newsletter as well as the CR18 Brief.<br />

So I hope that you enjoy our 5 th <strong>News</strong>letter and as<br />

always you are welcome to submit ads or letters,<br />

images etc.<br />

<strong>Commando</strong> For Life<br />

Nick Hill<br />

President<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 45


May 1941<br />

No1 Independent Company was raised and trained at<br />

Wilsons Promontory Victoria, the home and birthplace<br />

of Australian <strong>Commando</strong>.<br />

17 April 1942<br />

2/5 Cdo Coy arrives in Port Moresby, New Guniea<br />

during an air raid.<br />

Unusual suspects at the<br />

ANZAC Day March<br />

Brisbane <strong>2018</strong><br />


Significant <strong>Commando</strong> Dates .................................p.24<br />

First of the First – 1 st Independent Company .........p.25<br />

In Focus – SGT Brett Wood MG. DSM<br />

2 nd <strong>Commando</strong> Regiment .......................................p.27<br />

<strong>Commando</strong>s For Life ..............................................p.28<br />

Upcoming ACA Qld Events ....................................p.28<br />

Books Of Interest– The <strong>Commando</strong><br />

by Ben McKelvey ....................................................p.29<br />

<strong>Commando</strong>s Return ................................................p,29<br />


A Calm Mind<br />


QCA Wreath at the<br />

Canungra District<br />

Memorial ANZAC Day<br />

<strong>2018</strong><br />

• Reduce stress & anxiety<br />

• Reduce PTSD symptoms<br />

• Have better sleep<br />

• Learn to calm the mind & relax<br />

the body<br />

• Stop reactivity and find peace in<br />

the present moment<br />

Join a Day Retreat in Nature and learn<br />

evidence-based strategies to calm your<br />

mind and relax your body. Join a small<br />

group or create your own private group.<br />

More info: 0430 434 417 – info@anandarainforestretreat.com<br />

May 1942<br />

2/6 & 2/7 Cdo Coy’s formed at the Guerrilla Warfare<br />

School, Wilsons Promontory, Victoria.<br />

March 1943<br />

2/6 Cdo Coy reforms as the 2/6 Cdo Sqn of the<br />

2/7 Cdo Regt at the Jungle Warfare School at<br />

Canungra, Qld after returning from New Guniea.<br />

April 1943<br />

2/4 Cdo Coy reforms as the 2/4 Cdo Sqn at the<br />

Jungle Warfare School at Canungra, Qld after<br />

returning from Timor.<br />

May 1943<br />

53 men of 2/3 Cdo Sqn conducts an attack on<br />

Ambush Knoll in New Guniea against the Japanese<br />

and takes the position. The JIA attempts several<br />

counter attacks over several days, but are<br />

repelled each time.<br />

2/5 Cdo Coy reforms as the 2/5 Cdo Sqn of the<br />

2/7 Cdo Regt at the Jungle Warfare School at<br />

Canungra, Qld after returning from New Guinea.<br />

2/7 Cdo Coy conducts combat operations in<br />

Bena Bena, New Guinea as part of Bena Force.<br />

2/4 Cdo Sqn conducts combat operations against the<br />

Japanese on Tarakan Island off Borneo.<br />

2/9 Cdo Sqn lands at Dove Bay, Wewak and<br />

established the beachhead.<br />

<strong>13</strong>-19 May 1945<br />

2/10 Cdo Sqn is surrounded by Japanese troops in<br />

the Wewak area and fights off numerous attacks.<br />

06 May 1969<br />

WO2 Ray Simpson DCM & Bar awarded the Victoria<br />

Cross for Valour in South Vietnam. Ray was attached<br />

to AATTV from 1 Cdo Coy.<br />

46 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>


1 ST Independent Company<br />

The 1 st Independent Company was formed in<br />

May/June 1941 and was trained at the No. 7<br />

Infantry Training Centre at Tidal River on<br />

Wilsons Promontory in Victoria. Originally the company<br />

was raised to serve in the Middle East although, at that<br />

time there was uncertainty about the role that the<br />

company would fill there. Indeed, within the Australian<br />

Army there was a section that saw no need for the<br />

independent companies, believing that they would<br />

prove to be more of a drain on resources than anything<br />

else.<br />

Structure<br />

With an authorised strength of 17 officers and 256<br />

other ranks, the 1st Independent Company was<br />

composed of a company headquarters consisting of <strong>13</strong><br />

personnel, three 60-man platoons named A, B and C,<br />

each of three 19-man sections numbered in series from<br />

1 to 9, plus an engineer section of 21 men, a 34-man<br />

signals section, a medical section of six men and a<br />

transport section with four men. A major commanded<br />

the company, with a captain as a second-in-command.<br />

A captain also commanded each platoon, while all<br />

sections except the medical and lieutenants<br />

commanded transport sections. A captain commanded<br />

the medical section.<br />

New Ireland & The South Pacific<br />

In 1941, as the threat of war with Imperial Japan<br />

loomed, the main body of the company was sent to<br />

Kavieng, New Ireland, to protect Kavieng airfield whilst<br />

other sections were sent to Namatanai on New Ireland,<br />

Vila in the New Hebrides, Tulagi on Guadalcanal, Buka<br />

on Bougainville, and Lorengau on Manus Island to act<br />

as observers and provided medical treatment to the<br />

inhabitants. Commanded by Major James Edmonds-<br />

Wilson, in the event of an invasion of New Britain by<br />

the Japanese the 1st Independent Company was<br />

under orders to resist long enough to destroy key<br />

airfields and other military installations such as fuel<br />

dumps, before withdrawing south to wage a guerrilla<br />

war. They did not have to wait very long, as on 21<br />

January 1942, a preparatory bombing raid by about<br />

sixty Japanese aircraft attacked Kavieng. A number of<br />

aircraft were shot down, however, the company's only<br />

means of escape, the schooner Induna Star, was<br />

damaged. Nevertheless, despite the damage the crew<br />

managed to sail the vessel to Kaut where they started<br />

to repair the damage. As they did so, the commandos<br />

withdrew across the island to Sook, having received<br />

word that a large Japanese naval force was<br />

approaching the island.<br />

In the early morning of 22 January 1942, the<br />

Japanese landed at Kavieng with between 3,000 and<br />

4,000 troops. As the lead Japanese troops reached<br />

Kavieng airfield, fighting broke out as the small force<br />

that had remained at the airfield blew up the supply<br />

dump and other facilities. Fighting their way out, the<br />

commandos withdrew towards the main force at Sook,<br />

although a number of men were captured in the<br />

process. Once the company had regrouped at Sook,<br />

on 28 January they withdrew further south to Kaut,<br />

where they helped with the repair of the Induna Star,<br />

before setting out along the east coast of the island.<br />

They reached Kalili Harbour on 31 January but after<br />

learning that the fighting on New Britain was over and<br />

that the Japanese had occupied Rabaul, it was decided<br />

to sail for Port Moresby.<br />

Montevideo Maru<br />

On 2 February the schooner was sighted by a<br />

Japanese plane, which subsequently attacked, causing<br />

considerable damage to the vessel as well as<br />

destroying one of its lifeboats and causing a number of<br />

casualties. The Induna Star began taking on water and<br />

as a result the men were forced to surrender. Under<br />

escort by a Japanese aircraft and then later a destroyer,<br />

they were instructed to sail to Rabaul where they<br />

became prisoners of war. After a few months at<br />

Rabaul, the officers were separated from their NCOs<br />

and men. The officers were transported to Japan where<br />

they remained in captivity for the rest of the war, whilst<br />

the NCOs and men, along with other members of Lark<br />

Force that had been captured and a number of<br />

civilians, where put on to the Japanese passenger ship<br />

Montevideo Maru for transportation. Traveling un -<br />

escorted, the Montevideo Maru sailed from Rabaul on<br />

22 June. On 1 st July 1942, the ship was sighted by an<br />

American submarine, the USS Sturgeon, off the coast<br />

of the Luzon, Philippines. The USS Sturgeon torpedoed<br />

and sunk the Montevideo Maru, without realising it was<br />

a prisoner of war vessel. Only a handful of the<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 47

Japanese crew were rescued, with none of the<br />

between 1,050 and 1,053 prisoners aboard surviving as<br />

they were still locked below deck. All <strong>13</strong>3 men from the<br />

1 st Independent Company who were aboard the<br />

Montevideo Maru were either killed or drowned.<br />

New Guinea<br />

Meanwhile, the sections of the company that had<br />

not been with the main group at Kavieng managed to<br />

avoid capture by the Japanese. Working with the coast<br />

watchers, they reported Japanese movements and<br />

carried out demolitions until they were later evacuated<br />

or escaped from the islands between April and May<br />

1942. A reinforcement platoon had been trained in<br />

Australia while the company was deployed and after<br />

completing its training sailed on the Macdui, arriving at<br />

Port Moresby on 10 March 1942.<br />

Following their arrival, the platoon was<br />

designated the Independent Platoon Port<br />

Moresby and initially used for local<br />

defence purposes. It was later redesignated<br />

as Detachment 1 Independent<br />

Company. In April 1942, under the<br />

command of Captain Roy Howard, it was<br />

moved to Kudjeru, in New Guinea, to<br />

guard against possible Japanese move -<br />

ment south of Wau along the Bulldog Track. In the<br />

process they became the first Australian Army unit to<br />

cross the Owen Stanley Range. In June, a section<br />

fought alongside the 2/5 th Independent Company as<br />

part of Kanga Force where they participated in a major<br />

raid on the Japanese at Salamaua. Eventually, however,<br />

as a result of the losses suffered during the 1942<br />

campaigns it was decided that the company would be<br />

disbanded and as the survivors were transferred to<br />

other commando units – with the majority of those in<br />

Port Moresby being transferred to the 2/5 th – the 1 st<br />

Independent Company was never raised again.<br />

Throughout the course of the unit's existence, it<br />

suffered 142 men killed in action or died while<br />

prisoners of war. One member of the company was<br />

awarded the Military Cross.<br />

Australian POWs in Shikoku, Japan 1942-45, including members of 1st Independent Company<br />

48 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

IN FOCUS<br />


2 nd <strong>Commando</strong> Regiment<br />

Sergeant Brett Wood MG, DSM was born in<br />

Ferntree Gully, Victoria in 1978. He joined the<br />

Army in 1996 and after recruit and initial<br />

employment training (IET) he was posted to the 6 th<br />

Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (6 RAR) in<br />

Brisbane. In 1998 then PTE Wood successfully under -<br />

took <strong>Commando</strong> Selection and Training and after<br />

completing the <strong>Commando</strong> reinforcement cycle he<br />

was posted to the then 4 th Battalion, The Royal Aust -<br />

ralian Regiment (<strong>Commando</strong>) (4 Cdo) in November of<br />

that same year.<br />

Brett had significant operational experience, his first<br />

deployment was on Operation Bel Isi II to Bougainville<br />

in 2000. In 2001 he deployed to East Timor on<br />

Operation Tanager with Bravo <strong>Commando</strong> Company<br />

(BCC) and in 2003 to Iraq on Operation Falconer again<br />

with BCC as part of the Special Operations Task Force<br />

(SOTF). After his return from Iraq he successfully<br />

completed the Advanced Close Quarter Battle (ACQB)<br />

Course for service with Tactical Assault Group - East<br />

(TAG-E) and was deployed during Operation<br />

Scrummage (Rugby World Cup 2003).<br />

In 2006 Sergeant Wood deployed to Afghanistan as<br />

part of the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG)<br />

Rotation III (Rot III) with Delta <strong>Commando</strong> Company<br />

(DCC). During this deployment he was awarded The<br />

Medal for Gallantry (MG) (Australia’s third highest<br />

award for valour), for leadership in action as a Team<br />

Commander during this tour. He was also awarded the<br />

Unit Citation For Gallantry (UCG) as a member of<br />

SOTG Rot I, II and III.<br />

He rotated back on to TAG-E in 2007 as a SGT and<br />

became the Emergency Action (EA) Commander for<br />

Land Assault Platoon. During this rotation he deployed<br />

on Operation Deluge (APEC Summit) in Sydney and<br />

was awarded the Special Operations Commander –<br />

Australia, Commendation for service with TAG-E. In<br />

2008 he became instrumental in the raising of the<br />

Armed Response Protection Team (ARPT) capability<br />

with in 4 Cdo and during that time deployed several<br />

times to Iraq & Afghanistan to provide security to VIPs,<br />

dignitaries and members of Parliament.<br />

In 2009 he again deployed to Afghanistan on Rot X<br />

this time with Charlie <strong>Commando</strong> Company (CCC) as a<br />

SGT Section Commander and again on Rot XV in 2011<br />

as a Platoon SGT with CCC. It was during this<br />

deployment during a Counter Narcotic Operation in<br />

support of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)<br />

in Kesh Mesh Khan, Helmand Province, Brett was<br />

tragically killed in action as a result of stepping on an<br />

Improvised Explosive Device (IED) whilst chasing up<br />

Taliban Insurgents on 23 May 2011. Brett’s death shook<br />

the Regiment to its core as he was considered to be<br />

one of the most<br />

professional and<br />

one of the best<br />

<strong>Commando</strong> SGTs in<br />

the Regiment. Brett<br />

was buried at<br />

Rookwood Military<br />

Cemetery in Sydney<br />

on the 3rd of June<br />

2011 with full<br />

military honours. At the service at St. Andrews<br />

Cathedral in Sydney, Brett was Posthumously awarded<br />

the US Military’s Meritorious Service Medal on behalf of<br />

the Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan, General<br />

David Petraeus.<br />

In 2012 Brett was (Posthumously) awarded the<br />

Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) for leadership in<br />

Action.<br />

SGT Wood has been awarded the following<br />

decorations;<br />

• Medal for Gallantry<br />

• Distinguished Service Medal<br />

• Australian Active Service Medal 1975- with clasps:<br />

East Timor, International Coalition Against Terrorism<br />

(ICAT) and Iraq 2003<br />

• Afghanistan Campaign Medal<br />

• Iraq Campaign Medal<br />

• Australian Service Medal 1975- with clasps:<br />

Bougainville, Counter Terrorism/Special Recovery<br />

• Defence Long Service Medal<br />

• Australian Defence Medal<br />

• United Nations Transitional Authority - East Timor<br />

Medal<br />

• NATO ISAF Medal;<br />

• US Meritorious Service Medal<br />

• Unit Citation for Gallantry<br />

• Meritorious Unit Citation<br />

• Special Operations Command Australia<br />

Commendation<br />

• Infantry Combat Badge.<br />

• Citation For The Medal For Gallantry<br />

To be awarded the medal for gallantry -<br />

Corporal Brett Mathew Wood<br />

For gallantry and leadership in action as a<br />

<strong>Commando</strong> Team Commander, of the Special<br />

Operations Task Group – Task Force 637, whilst<br />

deployed on Operation SLIPPER Rotation Three<br />

Afghanistan, May – September 2006.<br />

Corporal Brett Mathew Wood enlisted in the<br />

Australian Regular Army on the <strong>13</strong> th of February 1996<br />

and was allocated to the 6 th Battalion, the Royal<br />

Australian Regiment. He later successfully completed<br />

<strong>Commando</strong> training and was posted to the 4 th<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 49

Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (<strong>Commando</strong>)<br />

in 1998. Corporal Wood’s operational experience<br />

includes deployments on Operations BEL ISI,<br />


On the 17 th of July<br />

2006 during Operation<br />

PERTH, the <strong>Commando</strong><br />

Platoon was tasked to<br />

conduct the clearance<br />

of an Anti Coalition<br />

Militia sanctuary in the<br />

Chora Valley, Oruzgan<br />

Province, Afghanistan.<br />

The Platoon was<br />

partnered in support of<br />

an Infantry Company of the United States Army 10 th<br />

Mountain Division. At approximately 1 pm the Infantry<br />

Company came under heavy rocket propelled grenade<br />

and small arms fire on multiple flanks resulting in six<br />

wounded and one soldier killed in action, effectively<br />

halting their advance. Through thick vegetation, facing<br />

large numbers of dispersed Anti Coalition Militia and<br />

under heavy fire, the <strong>Commando</strong> Platoon commenced<br />

manoeuvring to provide assistance to the element<br />

which was pinned down. During this move the<br />

<strong>Commando</strong> Platoon received a volley of four rockets<br />

which impacted in the centre of the platoon’s position<br />

resulting in six Australian soldiers wounded in action, a<br />

loss to the platoon by one third of its force. Unknown<br />

to the Commander at the time, Corporal Wood had<br />

also been wounded in the foot by fragmentation from<br />

the rocket propelled grenade barrage.<br />

In order to regain the initiative, Corporal Wood’s<br />

team was tasked by the <strong>Commando</strong> Platoon Com -<br />

mander to assault forward and clear a group of com -<br />

pounds from which they were receiving Anti Coalition<br />

Militia fire. Under these daunting conditions Corporal<br />

Wood commenced this task without hesita tion,<br />

completing a rapid and aggressive clearance of<br />

numerous threat compounds. Once achieved, both the<br />

United States and Australian elements were free to<br />

continue with the battle providing the necessary time<br />

to effect the back loading of the wounded by<br />

helicopter to the Forward Operating Base.<br />

Throughout the afternoon, numerous and relentless<br />

probing attacks by a determined opponent followed.<br />

Corporal Wood displayed extraordinary leadership and<br />

courage, inspiring his team and the remainder of the<br />

<strong>Commando</strong> platoon to repel the continued attacks. He<br />

then successfully led a marksmanship team to infiltrate<br />

the Anti Coalition Militia held territory killing seven Anti<br />

Coalition Militia. Only after the engagement had been<br />

completed and the threat to the platoon subsided did<br />

Corporal Wood inform his Commander of the frag -<br />

mentation wound that he had sustained during the<br />

original contact earlier that day. Corporal Wood was<br />

then evacuated to the Casualty Collection Point where<br />

he was provided with medical treatment and later<br />

extracted.<br />

Corporal Wood’s actions<br />

on the 17 th of July 2006, as a<br />

<strong>Commando</strong> Team Com -<br />

mander during Operation<br />

PERTH, were testament to<br />

his leadership, fortitude and<br />

sense of duty to his team<br />

and the platoon. His deter -<br />

mination to con tinue to lead<br />

his team during the battle in<br />

extremely hazardous circumstances despite being<br />

wounded ensured that the <strong>Commando</strong> Platoon<br />

regained the initiative and contributed significantly to a<br />

decisive victory. His gallantry and leadership in the<br />

face of the enemy has been of the highest order and in<br />

keeping with the finest traditions of Special Operations<br />

Command Australia, the Australian Army and the<br />

Australian Defence Force.<br />



The Medal for Gallantry (MG)<br />

Australia’s third highest award for Gallantry<br />

30 March 1966<br />

PTE Phillip Stewart, 1 st Cdo Coy,<br />

Died In Training, Gan Gan, NSW Australia<br />

27 April 2008<br />

LCPL Jason Marks, Delta Cdo Coy 4 th Cdo Bn,<br />

Killed In Action, Urazghan Province Afghanistan<br />

23 May 2011<br />

SGT Brett Wood MG. DSM. Charlie Cdo Coy<br />

2 nd Cdo Regt,<br />

Killed In Action, Helmand Province Afghanistan<br />

<strong>Commando</strong> For Life<br />

Lest We Forget<br />



09 – 19 September 18 -<br />

<strong>Commando</strong>s Return, Timor Leste.<br />


COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 51

Sell, Buy, Used & New Guns and Accessories<br />

www.gunplus.com.au<br />



3 x HIGH<br />



PER AD<br />




EASY<br />

TO SELF<br />

EDIT ADS<br />

Unique, Innovative Buy & Sell Online Platform<br />

Email: info@gunplus.com.au<br />

Conditions Apply. Price subject to change without notice<br />



Do you want to do sports but<br />

always failed? Walking is the<br />

easiest and most effective sport.<br />

Don’t worry, TW64 will record your<br />

step, distance and calorie, which<br />

can help you to set the target.<br />





mjkenterprise.com.au<br />

Protect your<br />

vehicle!<br />

Glass Coat ceramic paint sealer is the latest<br />

technology in vehicle paint protection<br />

Protects your car against:<br />

• Fading & oxidisation<br />

• Tree sap<br />

• Bird & bat deposits<br />

• Insect etching<br />

Enquire today<br />

02 9891 0026<br />

www.motorcaregroup.com.au<br />

52 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

The <strong>Commando</strong><br />

The Life and Death of CPL Cameron Baird VC. MG.<br />

By Ben McKelvey<br />

Corporal Baird was a modern-day warrior who set<br />

a standard that every soldier aspires to achieve.' -<br />


On 22 June 20<strong>13</strong>, Corporal Cameron Baird was a 2 nd<br />

<strong>Commando</strong> Regiment Special Forces soldier when he<br />

led his platoon into a known Taliban stronghold to<br />

back-up another Australian unit under heavy fire. In the<br />

pronged firefight, Cameron was mortally wounded.<br />

In 2014, Cameron's bravery and courage under fire<br />

saw him posthumously awarded the 100 th Victoria<br />

Cross, our highest award possible for bravery in the<br />

presence of the enemy. Cameron Baird died how he<br />

lived - at the front, giving it his all, without any<br />

indecision. He will forever be remembered by his<br />

mates and the soldiers he served with in the 2 nd<br />

<strong>Commando</strong> Regiment.<br />

THE COMMANDO reveals Cameron's life, from<br />

young boy and aspiring AFL player, who only missed<br />

out on being drafted because of injury, to exemplary<br />

soldier and leader. Cameron's story and that of 4RAR<br />

and 2 nd <strong>Commando</strong> personifies the courage and<br />

character of the men and women who go to war and<br />

will show us the good man we have lost.<br />


<strong>Commando</strong>s Return<br />

09 -19 September <strong>2018</strong><br />

<strong>Commando</strong>s Return is on again for <strong>2018</strong> between<br />

9 - 19 September. If you are a financial member of any<br />

Australian <strong>Commando</strong> Association, or a family member<br />

of a <strong>Commando</strong> killed in action your eligible to attend.<br />

See the flyer for more information and to register your<br />

interest.<br />

<strong>Commando</strong>s Return is an immersion program<br />

taking in holistic healing of the mind body and soul as<br />

well as immersing you into the experience of the<br />

Timorese people, landscape and its culture. You will<br />

also experience the major battle sights of the<br />

Australian <strong>Commando</strong>s of WW2, see and hear of the<br />

24-year conflict and eventual independence of the<br />

Indonesian occupation and to see where the Post WW2<br />

<strong>Commando</strong>s served from 1999 - 2010.<br />

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong> 53

56 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition <strong>13</strong> I <strong>2018</strong>

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!