Kevin Wheatley – Victoria Cross Vietnam

WO II KA Wheatley VC

British Military Medals- Victoria Cross. Highest award for Bravery

Kevin Arthur Wheatley was born the 13th of March, 1937 at Surry Hills, Sidney, Australia to Raymond George and Ivy Sarah Ann Wheatley. Kevin was their third child. Kevin attended Marouba Junction Junior Technical School. He married Edna Davis, a fourteen year old milk bar assistance on July 20th, 1954. Kevin enlisted in the Australian Army on the 12th of June, 1956. Following basic training, he was assigned to the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. He was transferred to the 3rd Battalion the next year.

Kevin served in the Malayan Crises from September, 1957, through July, 1959. In January 1964, he was promoted to Sergeant and then to Warrant Officer II (temp) in August. Kevin was a very well liked and respected non-com. His friends and comrades called him "Dasher", an affectionate nickname given for his rugby abilities. In March 1965, Kevin was assigned to Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV). On the 28th of May, he rescued a little girl about three years old, risking his own life running through a hail of bullets.

Kevin was assigned to a Vietnamese battalion in Quang Tri for about six months until he was transferred to Tra Bong along with five other Australian Warrant Officers in October 1965. At a Special Forces base deep in enemy territory, Kevin's group worked along with American forces in leading Vietnam and Montangard soldiers running search and destroy missions.

An operation of the Vietnamese Civil Irregular Defense Force on November the 13th, 1966 in the TraBong valley, approximately 15 km from the Tra Bong Special Forces camp at Quang Ngai province made contact with Viet Cong forces. Accompanying the force were Captain F. Fazekas, senior Australian Adviser, with the center platoon, and Warrant Officers KA Wheatley and RJ Swanton with the right hand platoon.

At about 1340 hours, Warrant Officer Wheatley reported contact with Viet Cong elements. The Viet Cong resistance increased in strength until finally Warrant Officer Wheatley asked for assistance. Captain Fazekas led his platoon to give assistance, and they fought towards the action area. While moving towards this area he received another radio message from Warrant Officer Wheatley to say that Warrant Officer Swanton had been hit in the chest, and requested an air strike and an evac chopper to evacuate the casualties.

Although told by the Civil Irregular Defense Group medic that Warrant Officer Swanton was dying, Dasher Wheatley refused to abandon him. Discarding his radio so to be able carry Warrant Officer Swanton, under heavy enemy fire, out of the open rice paddies into the somewhat safer wooded area, some 200 meters away. He was assisted by a member of the Civil Irregular Defense Group, Private Dinh Do, who, when the Viet Cong were within ten meters of their position, urged him to leave his dying comrade. Kevin flat out refused, pulling the pins from two grenades to calmly await the Viet Cong, one grenade in each hand.

Shortly afterwards, two grenade explosions were heard, followed by several bursts of fire. The two bodies were found at early the next morning after the fighting had ceased, with Warrant Officer Wheatley lying beside Warrant Officer Swanton. Both had died of gunshot wounds.

Kevin "Dasher" Wheatley was survived by his wife Edna and four children. His body was returned to Australia for burial at Pine Grove Memorial Park, Blacktown, New South Wales. His name is commemorated in the New South Wales Garden of Remembrance at Rookwood war cemetery. In 1967 a trophy for annual competition between the Australian Services Rugby Union and the Sydney Rugby Football Union was inaugu¬rated in his name.

A sports arena at Vung Tau, Vietnam was named after him and his citation and photograph are displayed in the Hall of Heroes, John F. Kennedy Center for Military Assistance, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The United States also awarded him the Silver Star. He was made a Knight of the National Order of the Republic of Vietnam, and received the Military Merit Medal and the Cross of Gallantry.

It's Goodbye from me

Regards

Barry



Source by Barry Sheppard

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