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5RAR Honours and Awards

 

Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)

Capt. James Douglas DFC
Capt. James Douglas Campbell DFC

Citation accompanying the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Capt. Campbell
 

Captain James Douglas Campbell enlisted in the Australian Regular Army on 30 December 1953.He was commissioned as an Army Pilot on 18 May 1962, and subsequently qualified as a helicopter instructor. He joined 161st (Independent) Reconnaissance Flight in Vietnam on 8 September 1966 and commanded the Flight's helicopters.

During his tour of duty Captain Campbell flew over nine hundred hours and by his personal example and guidance dramatically improved the effectiveness of the intimate aviation support given by his helicopters.

As the flying instructor in his unit he effectively maintained the flying standards of his pilots and the low accident rate within the unit reflects great credit on his instructional skill. He regularly flew all types of missions assigned to his helicopters and flew in weather conditions which would normally have debarred flying operations but for the urgency of the mission.

Many of the missions were extremely hazardous and his aircraft came under direct small arms fire from the Viet Cong, but on all occasions he completed the allotted task. By his personal example he set a standard of leadership, determination and bravery in the air which was an inspiration to his pilots.

On 21 February 1967, during Operation Renmark an armoured personnel carrier was blown up in a minefield. The crew and the passengers became causalities. Troops dismounted from the following armoured personnel carrier and moved forward to assist the wounded. They were also wounded by a Viet Cong claymore mine which had been sited and timed to destroy the rescue party. After the second mine explosion there were thirty two members trapped in the minefield.

At great personal risk Captain Campbell flew a medical officer to the scene of the mine explosions, and landed in the minefield knowing full well that he and his helicopter could be destroyed by a mine explosion triggered by the helicopters skids or the down blast of the rotors. He chose to do this so that by quick evacuation the lives of the more seriously wounded might be saved.

With complete disregard for his own safety, Captain Campbell landed time after time in the minefield in order to evacuate the wounded to another landing point from which it was considered safe for large Royal Australian Air Force helicopters to operate and thus remove the wounded to hospital.

By his skill. fortitude and special efforts to lift out the wounded at all costs, Captain Campbell set an outstanding example as a soldier, as an Army Pilot and his actions reflect great credit on himself, his unit and Army Aviation.

Webmaster's note:  The armoured personnel carrier was carrying soldiers of B Company 5RAR.
An account of that action written by 5RAR's RMO Capt. Tony White, can be read Here.

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