Honours and Awards 


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This section covers the Honours and Awards that members of 161 Reconnaissance Flight and 161 (Indep) Reconnaissance Flight received for their service in South Vietnam from September 1965 until March 1972. 

The Reconnaissance Flight was a unique unit in South Vietnam and every Australian unit which served in South Vietnam would have had some involvement or contact with the Flight at one time or another. The achievements of the Flight in South Vietnam was and still is an inspiration to all personnel who have served and are currently serving in Army aviation units. The Flight had personnel posted in or attached to the unit from many different Corps and Services, including the Royal Australian Air Force and the New Zealand Army. 

Two New Zealand pilots were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross whilst attached to 161 (Indep) Recce Flt.

There are known omissions from the Allied Honours and Awards because some of the members of the Flight who received such awards did so without receiving any official documents with the awards. 

161 Recce Flight was in South Vietnam for more than six years and in that time the unit established a distinguished record as a member of the Australian Army Aviation Corps. Over 72,000 hours were flown in support of 1st Australian Task Force by the Recce Flt with a minimal number of aircraft.

The following Honours and Awards were presented to members of 161 Recce Flt and 161 (Indep) Recce Flt:


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**    For information on individual award details please click on the spinning star.


340180 Captain Peter Mervyn Robinson RAEME


25516 Major Henry Arthur Benson RAA
25621 Major Lawrence Gerard Doyle RAA
28356 Major Graeme Hill-Smith AAAvn
18548 Captain James Douglas Campbell RAEME
235246 Captain John Leslie Coggan RAA
39875 Captain William Bevil Flanagan NZAAC
39545 Lieutenant Terence John Hayes AAAvn
17699 Lieutenant Colin Walter James Scott RAINF
30799 Lieutenant Edwin Grant Steel NZAAC
2243939 Second Lieutenant Peter Alexander Bysouth AAAvn
39548 Second Lieutenant Fraser Maxwell Gibson AAAvn
1200956 Second Lieutenant Peter Harry Rogers AAAvn
44101 Second Lieutenant Malcolm Roy Smith AAAvn
3112007 Second Lieutenant Michael John Sonneveld AAAvn


213017 Second Lieutenant Robert William Askew RAEME


235149 Major Philip John Calvert AAAvn
27240 Major Neil Hilton Harden AAAvn
235266 Captain Robert Malcolm Millar RAEME
1200935 Captain Rowan Edmond Monteith AAAvn
11509 Captain Bevan John Smith RAE
37498 Captain John Trevor Wright RAINF
51727 Lieutenant Ross Hutchinson RAA
1200008 Second Lieutenant Charles John Barron RAASC
1200953 Second Lieutenant David Herbert Earley AAAvn
19994 Second Lieutenant Thomas William Guivarra RAA
216990 Second Lieutenant Phillip Norman Stevens AAAvn
A11639 Sergeant Douglas William Kennett RAAF
42857 Staff Sergeant Robert Arthur Young RAAMC
64358 Sergeant Rockleigh Edward Hoare RAEME
1200565 Sergeant Richard Anthony Yielding RAASC
38498 Sergeant Robert Zitzelsberger RAEME


During the Vietnam War a number of awards were presented to members of 161 Reconnaissance Flight from both the United States of America and Vietnam. There are a number of known omissions from the list of recipients of these awards, because some members of the Flight did not receive any official document with their award, therefore there is no official record of the awards being presented.

Any information on the recipients and details of any allied awards presented to members of the Flight, not included in this book, would be very much appreciated for future inclusion in the 161 Recce Flt Collection.

Details of Allied Honours and Awards presented to members of 161 Recce Flight are as follows:

235246 Captain John Coggan.

Awarded: The Distinguished Flying Cross, (United States),

The Gallantry Cross, with Bronze Star, (Vietnam), and

The Gallantry Cross, with Gold Star, (Vietnam).

61106 Major Paul Lipscombe.

Awarded: The Bronze Star for Meritorious Service (United States).

37890 Captain Fred Barlow.

Awarded: The Army Commendation Medal for Service (United States).

215225 Second Lieutenant Steve Tizzard.

Awarded: The Air Medal for Service (United States).


On 4 July 1991, 161 Reconnaissance Squadron was awarded the United States Army Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC) for the services of 161 Recce Flight as part of the 1 RAR Battalion Group in South Vietnam during 1965 - 1966.

The Commendation was presented by Lieutenant General W.S. Carpenter, Jr., General Officer Commanding ROK/US forces Korea after considerable effort by the veterans of the first tour in achieving the recognition so richly deserved.

The presentation parade was held at the Coral Lines, 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment,  Lavarack Barracks in Townsville and was witnessed by over 400 veterans including many from the United States and New Zealand.

The Commendation consists of the Citation, a streamer for attachment to the colours and the actual MUC decoration. The decoration is to be worn by veterans of the tour in perpetuity and members of 161 Recce Sqn, only whilst serving in the unit.

All military personnel who served with the units of the 1RAR Group, attached to the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate), United States Army, during the period 5 May 1965 to 16 May 1966 are entitled to the award.

The MUC was awarded to members of the following units:

1 RAR Group, 1 APC TP, 105 FD BTY, 161 FD BTY (RNZA), 3 FD TP (RAE), 1 AUST LOG SPT COY, and 161 RECCE FLT.

The following members of 161 Recce Flt qualified for the MUC:

61007 Major Paul Lipscombe RAASC 335138 Captain Neville Pinkham RAAC
11509 Captain Bevan Smith RAE 235224 Lieutenant John Guild RAINF

213816 Lieutenant John Purvis RAASC

15508 Lieutenant Holger Von Muenchhausen RAAC

243041 Second Lieutenant Donald Cockerell RAEME  43088 Second Lieutenant Donald Ettridge RAASC
O313248 Flight Lieutenant Donald Tidd RAAF 1967 Warrant Officer Charles Scafe RAINF
A1770 Flight Sergeant Lloyd Larney RAAF 37722 Sergeant Laurie Dawber RAAOC
14264 Sergeant Clement Ebner RAINF 15219 Sergeant Jack Ellis RAEME
12432 Sergeant Harold Gibson RAAMC  A576 Sergeant Allan Higginbottom RAAF
A3260 Sergeant Les Marr RAAF 15224 Sergeant Brian Mateer RAINF
A2772 Sergeant Mervyn Otago RAAF 15676 Sergeant Kevin Robertson RAINF
A13660 Sergeant Raymond Thompson RAAF 15857 Private Phillip Viney RAASC
310973 Corporal George Avern RAAOC 243108 Corporal Barry Bean RAEME
A19208 Corporal John Black RAAF 58683 Corporal Maxwell Byng RAEME
A42637 Corporal James Crook RAAF 213447 Corporal Phillip Cummings RAAOC
58727 Corporal Kenneth Elson RAEME A13197 Corporal Richard Humphrey RAAF
A15765 Corporal Ben Humphries RAAF 16082 Corporal James Jordon RAEME
342753 Corporal Ian MacDonald RAEME A219443 Corporal Peter Menear RAAF
A217613 Corporal Don Patterson RAAF 214122 Corporal William Rawlings RAEME
16715 Corporal Kelvin Raison RAAC 14832 Corporal Charles Smith AACC
A216966 Corporal Ralph Thorp RAAF A15767 Corporal Eardley Wilson RAAF
11456 Corporal Trevor Winterton RAEME 2410879 Bombardier Robert Hart RAA
14413 Lance Corporal Thomas Blair RAEME 3842 Lance Corporal Ron Coombs RAINF
16684 Lance Corporal Lyal Pukallus RAEME 342813 Craftsman Neil Bennett RAEME
243192 Craftsman Derek Budd RAEME 58750 Craftsman Robert Hodgkinson RAEME
43140 Craftsman Ronald McLean RAEME 18645 Craftsman John Nickols RAEME
342821 Craftsman David O'Brien RAEME 243094 Craftsman Owen Reynolds RAEME
243200 Craftsman Robert White RAEME 342872 Craftsman Herbert Willis RAEME
A110529 LAC Keith Bell RAAF A13534 LAC Harry Wood RAAF
311406 Private John Blakey RAINF 14871 Private Cecil Crook AACC
16928 Private Robert Doyle RAINF 16894 Private Francis Finnigan RAINF
210474 Private Reginald Holland RAASC 215724 Private Robert Hutchison RAINF
215026 Private Leslie McCarthy AACC 120007 Private Bevan Pearson RAINF
18772 Private Mitchell Sitarz RAASC  


On 3rd June 1998, the Vietnam “End of War List” was announced by the Australian Government. The following members of 161 Reconnaissance Flight and 161 (Independent) Reconnaissance Flight were awarded the following medals:


11509 Captain Bevan John Smith RAE


29745 Captain Barry Creig Donald AAAvn
37498 Captain John Trevor Wright RAINF
1200008 Second Lieutenant Charles John Barron RAASC
216990 Second Lieutenant Phillip Norman Stevens AAAvn

Please Note: The DSM for Barry Donald was awarded posthumously.


Following is a brief introduction to the Honours and Awards awarded to the members of 161 (Indep) Recce Flight for their service in South Vietnam.


The most Excellent Order of the British Empire was founded by King George V in June 1917 for services to the Empire at home, in India and in the Dominions and Colonies, other than those rendered by the Navy and the Army. It could be conferred upon officers of the fighting services for services of a non-combat character. The order ranks in precedence to the Royal Victorian Order, and can be conferred upon ladies as well as men.

In December 1918 His Majesty created a Military Division of the Order to date from its creation. Persons who, between June 1917 and December 1918, had been appointed to the Order, and by subsequent regulations were qualified for the Military Division, could be transferred to the same.

The Order - Military Division - can thus be conferred upon members of the fighting services which do not qualify them for some other Order or decoration awarded for services in the field or before the enemy.

There are five classes of the Order, the male members of which have the right of using the appropriate letters after their names.


Shortly before the formation of the Royal Air Force on 1st April 1918 a committee was constituted to advise the King whether a special decoration was needed for the new Service. On 3rd June 1918 a notice to the effect that the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) had been instituted appeared in the London Gazette.

It was ordained that the DFC shall be granted only to such Officers and Warrant Officers for an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty performed whilst flying in active operations against the enemy.

Additionally, it was ordained that the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross would entitle the recipient to have the initials DFC appended to his name.

On 11th March 1941, the award was extended to equivalent ranks of the Fleet Air Arm, and on 10th November 1942 eligibility for the award was extended to the Army.

The DFC is issued unnamed. However, specimens are often found named (by recipients, next-of-kin, etc.) on the plain surface of the reverse side of the cross.


Although some civilians had been commended for "good service" in the First World War, it was not until 1939 that commendations were made consistently, the award corresponding roughly to a "civilian" mention in despatches. While the first such awards were made for gallantry it is by no means certain that all commendations were made on this basis although, at all events, this soon became the practice.

It was soon found that occasions arose where servicemen performed acts of gallantry for which a mention in despatches or other award was not appropriate and, in this sense, the concept of official commendation soon lost its purely civilian aspect.

In 1942 the first awards of a special commendation "for valuable service in the air" were made to civilians and servicemen alike, and commendations were placed on the same footing as other recognised awards.

Certificates accompany the award of a commendation and for servicemen, these are signed by the appropriate Service Minister.

From about 1943, a plastic badge was issued to denote a civil commendation. Later this was replaced by a silver oak leaf. The first issues were made with two prongs at the back for fixing to the ribbon or to the coat, but are now made with a brooch fitting.


The award of a Mention in Despatches (MID) is made where the conferring of a gallantry or other decoration is deemed inappropriate or is not otherwise available, and is signified by an oak leaf worn on the ribbon of the relevant service or campaign medal.

Implemented formally with royal approval in British Army Orders in May 1919, MIDs have existed since at least the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The initial form of recognition was a certificate, but this did not apparently satisfy the requirement for a tangible symbol of the 'mention', and in January 1920 the now-familiar oak leaf was instituted. Only one is worn, no matter how many times a recipient received a 'mention' in the campaign concerned.

MIDs awarded during the Vietnam War are displayed on the Vietnam Medal. During Vietnam there were a total of 606 MIDs awarded to Australian service personnel. 421 to the Army, 137 to the RAAF and 48 to the RAN.

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