News Archives

Message From the RAMC Association

The Chairman and members of the RAMC Association wish to express their sympathy for the loss of life, distress and deprivation caused by the forest fires to any members of the RAAMC Association in particular, and Australians in general, who may be affected. Our thoughts are with them and especially those members of the RAAMC who may be deployed to fight the fires.
In Arduis Fidelis
Chris Ellice

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VALE of Bob Symes

Bob Symes


There was standing room only as family and friends gathered to say farewell to a 34 year veteran and member of the RAAMC, Robert (Bob) Symes. The Vice President of the Sailsbury RSL, was laid to rest in both a moving and at times jovial ceremony conducted at the Salisbury RSL. A number of speakers delivered their accounts of the former serving soldier, father, loved one and a well respected member of the Salisbury RSL. Major John Smith travelled from Brisbane to deliver his account of both a fine soldier and good friend. There was also a large number of the Salisbury Sub Branch, where Bob spent a great deal of his time, working tiresly for those who needed a helping hand. He was instramental in educating the broader community in aspects of Veterans health, the history and traditions of the RSL and ANZAC Day. Before his passing, Bob was due to accept the presidency of the Salisbury Sub Branch. The final tribute was delivered by his daughter Michelle and son- in- law Justin. Michelle spoke of her love for Bob as both a great family man and a sadly missed Grandpa to Dylan and Jayde. In a final tribute, those attending formed a Guard of Honor as the coffin was carried to the waiting car to the sounds of “I did it my way.”

Robert (Bob) Symes, 11-10-1944-28-1-2009

Webmasters note: John Smith, Shorty Langford and I have known Bob in excess of 40 Years. Bob was what the RAAMC was and is all about. He was an infantry medic and later as a consequence of war caused disabilities transferred to the Q Stream and subsequently became the RQMS and QM of the 1st Field Hospital. He was a professional soldier who looked after those in his charge. He was passionate about the RAAMC and in his retirement was active and participated in its activities. He never sought recognition or or adulation. He was a soldiers soldier. Good Bye Bob.

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BRIG Brian Patrick Pezzutti CSC

The RAAMC Association congratulates BRIG Brian Pezzutti on his award of the Conspicuous Service Cross for outstanding achievement as a specialist anaesthetist and adviser to the Defence Health Services Division in the 2009 Australia Day Honours List.

The Conspicuous Service Cross recognises outstanding commitment to duty or outstanding application of exceptional skills, judgment or dedication, in non-war-like situations.


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Medivac PTE Mathew Pepi - Rifelman MRTF - 1


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Trooper Mark Donaldson Awarded the Victoria Cross

Trooper Mark Donaldson VCTrooper Mark Donaldson was awarded Australia’s highest military honour – the Victoria Cross. The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, saluted the Trooper as the first Australian in almost forty years to be presented the Victoria Cross.

Trooper Donaldson was awarded the Victoria Cross for acts of bravery in Afghanistan. His actions ensured the safety of his comrades, and saved the life of a coalition force interpreter.

Tradition holds that even the most senior military officers salute a Victoria Cross recipient, as a sign of respect for their act of gallantry.

Air Chief Marshal Houston said it would be his honour to salute Trooper Donaldson.

Click here to view Trooper Donaldson VC Citation and here to read his biography.
Click here to view the significance of this VC. Keith Payne VC OAM was the last Australian to win the VC in Vietnam.

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Private Gregory Sher ramp ceremony

The ramp ceremony for Private Gregory Sher in the Middle East was conducted before members of the Australian Defence force and the Coalition in the early morning hours of 8 January 2009. The Chief of Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, AO, AFC and the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP , Minister for Defence Science and Personnel together with Major General Michael Hindmarsh, AO, CSC, Commander of Australian Forces in the Middle East Area of Operations, attended the ceremony to bid farewell and acknowledge the sacrifice of a fine soldier.


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The Battle of Binh Ba

Planning has commenced to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Battle of Binh Ba in Canberra over the period 5 - 7 June 2009. A committee has been established and is liaising with the Department of Veterans' Affairs to finalise the program.   Any RAAMC personnel who participated in the Battle or supported it and wishing to participate in the celebrations are welcome. Click here to contact LTCOL Barry Morgan (retd). LTCOL Morgan is a former Commanding Officer of the School of Army Health Portsea and a member of the 5 RAR Battle of Binh Ba Organizing Committee.

Wounded VC

RMO 5 RAR, CAPT Hugh Robertson (left), attends to a wounded Viet Cong on the battlefield after the battle of Binh Ba. The identity of the medic assisting is unknown. If anyone can identify him, please click here.

View a video of the Battle of Binh Ba

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Military Cross
Military Cross


Major Douglas Fraser Reid Military CrossMajor Douglas Fraser Reid was the 1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles Battle (1RGR) Group Regimental Medical Officer during Op Herrick 7. 1RGR was committed to the role of Regional Battlegroup (South) (RGB(S)), which required it to conduct operations throughout Southern Afghanistan. Reid consistently and repeatedly distinguished himself by his courage and leadership in the most dangerous of situations.

The battle group deployed first on Op Palk Wahel in the Upper Geresk Valley between 18 Sep 07 and 03 Oct 07. Following his own firm advice, Reid was assigned to which ever of the companies it was assessed faced the highest risk of casualties. He infiltrated with C Company into enemy held territory by foot under cover of darkness and was soon engaged with intense fire from a number of directions. The ensuing fire-fight endured for over an hour and two casualties were sustained. At considerable personal risk, Reid advanced under enemy fire, treated the casualties and organised their extraction. For the majority of those with Reid, this was their first experience of close combat. His bravery and personal example were an inspiration to all and he was undoubtedly a major contributing factor in the successful outcome of the battle.

Following the operation in Helmand, Reid accompanied the fire support group on a road move to Kandahar. Soon after first light on 4 Oct 07, the vehicle in which Reid was travelling was struck by an improvised explosive device. The gunner and driver were thrown out of the vehicle and the company commander was killed instantly. Despite the severe physical and mental shock, Reid forced his way out of the destroyed vehicle and, in open ground and in full view of potential enemy firing points, treated the casualties. The enemy attempted a secondary attack during which Reid’s attention to the casualties was unstinting. Once again Reid’s actions had proved to be decisive. Over an exacting period of 3 to 4 hours, he overcame the personal physical trauma to conduct his professional duty and establish control of a serious and dangerous situation following the loss of the company commander.

Between 20 Oct 07 and 15 Nov 07, Reid was on the ground again on Op Spin Ghar, the clearance of an enemy stronghold in the Baluchi Valley. Reid inserted by helicopter with the lead company right on the edge of the objective. Once engaged by the enemy, fighting was hard and close quarter. Both lead platoons and the Australian SAS came under simultaneous heavy contact from multiple firing points, resulting in two casualties. Reid stabilised the first, a C Company soldier, and without hesitation, dashed across open ground under withering fire to begin treatment of the mortally wounded Australian casualty. The situation was perilous with the Australian SAS running low on ammunition and the enemy pressing home an attack. Reid was forced to administer treatment in full view of this emboldened enemy. With almost no regard for his own safety, he frequently exposed himself to enemy fire in order to access medical equipment. As the intensity of the enemy attack increased, Reid continued to work on the casualty, assisting in physically pulling him back from enemy killing zones when necessary, despite great personal risk. The Australian SAS commander described Reid’s role as “the significant turning point in the battle”

Reid demonstrated exceptional qualities of courage, organisational powers and practical example in the face of hostile enemy action. During the tour, he saved the lives of many local Afghans, their security forces, Coalition and British troops. His gallantry was inspirational and contributed to the overall enduring fighting spirit of the battle group. This exemplary service, far beyond the call of duty, deserves the very highest official recognition.

Afghan National Army at Forward Operating Base Locke


Australian and Afghanastan Medic

Warrant Officer Class 2 George Phillips teaches an Afghan National Army medic about the use of some medicines at Forward Operating Base Locke (Chora Valley, Afghanistan)

Under the guidance of experienced Australian soldiers from the Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force One (MRTF - 1), the influence of Taliban Insurgents is being pushed out of the Baluchi Pass and the Chora Valley in Afghanistanís Uruzgan Province.

Behind this success in areas once held by the Taliban is the new found strength of the Afghanistan National Army (ANA), underwritten by the support of Coalition forces and the guiding hands of Australian soldiers of the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT).

Patrol bases built over the last two years by Australian and Dutch forces in this area are now manned by the ANA with Australian forces providing support as military mentors.

The Commanding officer of MRTF - 1, Lieutenant Colonel Shane Gabriel, said the work of the ANA underwritten by Australian experience and resources was starting to pay off for Coalition forces in areas once controlled by the insurgents.

its early days and I don't want to overstate what we've achieved in the month and half that we've been here but I believe as a direct function of our new role by working with the ANA we've had some successes already we've been able to push the insurgent influence a lot further back than where they have previously enjoyed freedom of movement, Lieutenant Colonel Gabriel said.

Story and Photograph Courtesy of ADF Media

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Long Look Reunion


A collaboration between the webmasters of the RAMC and RAAMC Association is progressing to establish an Exercise LONG LOOK link on both sites. If you have any stories or photos or your experience please forward them to the webmaster

WO2 Strasky on Long Look

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The Future of Army Health


The future of Army Health and the impact of the Reserve was discussed at a conference conducted at Victoria Barracks Paddington. The Conference was let by the Director General Health Reserves - Army BRIG Daryl Duncan. Members from all Army Health Corps were in attendance. It is anticipated that this conference will be repeated in all States. Click here to view the above movie in QuickTime

The focus of the meeting was to look at issues around the generation of health capability for Army from the Army Reserve

The meeting was the first in what is planned to be sequence of meetings in different venues and states

Participants were provided a short update brief on the organisational changes in Army Health at the strategic and operational level

A wide range of issues were identified from recruiting, retention, organisational structures, deployment support and training needs. To contribute to this discussion email BRIG Duncan:

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Lt Michael Fussell Memorial Service


Family, friends and colleagues gathered together at Holsworthy Barracks today, to pay their respects to Lieutenant Michael Fussell, who lost his life to an Improvised Explosive Device in Afghanistan on the 27th November 2008.

Family and fellow Officers spoke to the gathering and reflected on the young Lieutenants career with the Army, in particular his service with the Royal Regiment Australian Artillery and 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando) (4RAR).

A Catafalque party took position around 4 RAR’s memorial, known as “the Rock”, before Lieutenant Fussell’s name was unveiled, and officially added him to the list recognizing those members of the battalion, who had made the supreme sacrifice in battle.

The service was concluded with the sounding of the Last Post, before the family was presented with the Australian Flag that draped the young Officer’s casket on the trip back to Australia, and a slouch hat, the eternal symbol of the Australian soldier.

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Lieutenant Michael Fussell Lest We Forget

Lieutenant Michael Fussell, who was killed by an improvised explosive device detonation in Afghanistan on Thursday 27 November, began his return to Australia today following a memorial service and ramp ceremony at Camp Holland, the Australian and Dutch military base in Tarin Kowt, southern Afghanistan. Click here to view the above video in QuickTime.

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Stepping Up: Part-Time Forces and ADF Capacity

In the past decade, armed forces around the Western world have found themselves supporting deployments that have endured for years. Read Andrew Davies and Hugh Smith's article recently published in the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Click here to download the full article.

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ANZAC DAY 2009 New South Wales

Click here to read some important changes to the ANZAC Day 2009 arrangements in Sydney.

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The 1st Australian Field Hospital marked it's 40th Anniversary with a parade at Victoria Barracks Sydney on 28 November 2008. The Reviewing Officer was MAJ Don Chapman CSC, the President of the 1st Australian Field Hospital Association. The 1st Australian Field Hospital was born in Vietnam in 1968 at the height of the Vietnam War.


Click here if you wish to view the Quicktime Movie

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NSW Military Health Symposium 2008

BRIG Tony Gill
BRIG Tony Gill at the NSW Defence Symposium

One hundred and fifty Defence Health Members of all ranks attended the Annual Military Health Symposium at HMAS Waterhen on 1 November 2008. The purpose of the symposium was to amplify on lessons learn on recent operational deployments. Speakers of all three Services provided insight on current trends and changes in war caused trauma management and conservation of manpower. The Symposium was attended by the outgoing Surgeon General Defence Reserves, RADM Graeme Shirtley and his successor, BRIG Jeffrey Rosenfeld. The RAAMC Head of Corps, BRIG Tony Gill was also present representing the RAAMC. Click here to view multimedia (Be patient large file). The Symposium concluded with a Regimental Dinner at the Victoria Barracks Sergeants' Mess.

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Howse award

Head of Corps BRIG Tony Gill advises that the winners of the the 2008 RAAMC Awards are:

  • Geoffrey Harkness  Medal - LTCOL Shaun Fletcher, TRGCOMD-A
  • C.F. Marks Award -  WO1 Stewart Robertson, Trade Management Cell, ALTC
  • Representative  Honorary Colonel Awards
    • CPL Pinder - 3  CSR
    • CPL Halpin - 2  CAV REGT
    • CPL Salleo - 8/12  MDM REGT

      Click here to view previous recipients

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Queensland Coat of ArmsQueensland Branch of the RAAMC Assn

Queenslanders who wish join the RAAMC Association (Queensland Branch) and get involved in Corps activities now have a web site and can be kept in the loop. The organising committee consisting of Merv Brown and Phillip Hills are currently preparing an inaugural meeting. The RAAMC Association is not an elitist or rank orientated Association (as some have suggested past Associations have been) so no matter if your serving or have served in the RAAMC at any level we want you to be part of this. Best of all is that, it is free to join. Click here to visit the web site To email your details

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Meet the Commander Joint Health - Surgeon General

Major General Paul Alexander

Biography - MAJGEN Paul Alexander

MAJGEN Paul Alexander joined the Army in 1976 and completed his medical training at the University of Melbourne in 1978. Following several years of clinical training in Victorian hospitals, he commenced the first of several regimental appointments as the Regimental Medical Officer (RMO) of the 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment. This was followed by several years working as an RMO in Papua New Guinea with the PNG Defence Force. He then served as the RMO for the Special Air Service Regiment for three years and completed SAS selection during his tenure.

In 1988 he undertook a period of postgraduate medical training in the UK in the areas of Sports Medicine and Tropical Medicine as well as undertaking several military attachments with UK medical units. On return to Australia he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and appointed as Commanding Officer of 11th Field Ambulance and subsequently as Commanding Officer of 1st Military Hospital Yeronga. Three years were then spent with the US Army as the Australian Army Exchange Officer to the US Army Medical Department where he was employed in the area of Capabilities, Combat and Doctrine Development and was involved in the redevelopment of US Army battlefield hospital systems.

On return to Australia he was promoted to Colonel and posted to Headquarters 1ST Division as the Senior Medical Officer and during this period, deployed with the initial peacekeeping force to Bougainville on Op BEL ISI. He transferred to the Army Reserve in 1998 and subsequently assumed the position of Director Reserve Health Services for Army in Qld. During this period he deployed as the Public Health Officer to the UN Peace Keeping Force in East Timor.

He was promoted to Brigadier in January 2004 and assumed the position of Assistant Surgeon General ADF - Army. He continued to work in clinical practice and was a partner in a large group medical practice in Queensland, undertaking the duties of managing partner. He was active in primary health care policy development as the Chairman of the Redcliffe Division of General Practice.

MAJGEN Alexander has also been actively involved in risk management and legal medicine. He has completed a Masters in Legal Medicine and is a Fellow of the Australian College of Legal Medicine. MAJGEN Alexander was promoted to the rank of Major General on 25th March 2008.

MAJGEN Alexander was appointed Commander Joint Health and Surgeon General Australian Defence Force on 4 August 2008 and Joint Health Command was established on 11 August 2008.

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Welcome Aboard 8 Field Ambulance
(Active 8)

8 Field Ambulance Badge

8 Field Ambulance have a long and distinguished history in the RAAMC and The RAAMC Association welcomes you to its group of associations which we service with this web site Click here to view their web site and read about their long and distinguished history

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2 Field Ambulance Reunion 2008

Past Members of 2 Field Ambulance met in Adelaide 17-19 October to celebrate their Reunion. Members and their wives/partners participated in a Meet and Greet at the Sussex Hotel, Walkerville on Friday then on Saturday a Dinner/River Cruise. On Sunday a trip to the Woodside Army Barracks was organised. Later that day at Walkerville RSL the Annual General Meeting was conducted followed by a farewell BBQ and drinks. More

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Digger James With PTE Wallace from the 2nd Health Support Battalion at the
11 Field Ambulance Reunion held at Enoggera on
11 October 2008. More
Digger James and Pte Wallace

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Want to see more from the 11 Field Ambulance Reunion? Click Here

Theo Certificate

LTCOL Shaun Fletcher, RAAMC Association Trustee and Foundation Member, presents WO2 Theo Dechaufepie (Retd), NSW Branch President, with his 20 Years Service Certificate at the RAAMC Association Meeting at Victoria Barracks Paddington on 3 September 2008
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Colonel John Overton and Brig Rosenfeld

Colonel John Overton OAM RFD Awarded the Chief of Army Commendation

Members of HSAR-ER, close friends and relatives attended the Victoria Barracks Officers' Mess in Paddington to witness the belated presentation of the Chief of Army Commendation to COL John Overton, the former Representative Honorary Colonel of the RAAMC. The presentation was originally planned for COL Overton's farewell in May with the presentation made personally by Chief of Army, LTGEN Peter Leahy. LTGEN Leahy and COL Overton had developed a close working relationship resulting from COL Overton's passion for the RAAMC and it's soldiers and wished to personally award his commendation at the farewell and before his retirement. Unfortunately, unforeseen engagements forced him to cancel at the last moment. Members of the Overton family had traveled from as far as Singapore to be in attendance. Catering for the occasion was provided by MAJ Brett Courtney and his two daughters, Laura and Sarah. BRIG Rosenfeld, the Director General Health Reserves - Army, a Melbourne Professor of Neuro Surgery and a close friend was in attendance and presented the Commendation on behalf of the former Chief of Army. At the request of the Overton Family, who were integral in planning for the occasion because of the need to co-ordinate family members who lived overseas in Singapore (Rebecca), a Cathay Airlines Captain (Duncan) based in Hong Kong and 60 a Minutes Reporter (Peter) who spends eight months of the year overseas, the occasion was held in an informal atmosphere. The highlight was to see the surprise in COL Overton's face when he unexpectedly noticed a young lady in the distance on his arrival at the mess that looked remarkably like his daughter Rebecca only to find it was her. Peter Overton made a heartfelt speech on how the family were so proud of their father.

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Trustees of the RAAMC Association LTCOL Shaun Fletcher, MAJ John Straskye, COL John Overton (Retd) and COL Tony Delaney with The Director General Health Reserves - Army BRIG Jeffrey Rosenfeld (Second from the right)

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Overton 2

COL John Overton, (Centre), BRIG Jeffrey Rosenfeld, the Director General Health Reserves - Army and the Overton Family at Victoria Barracks following the Chief of Army Commendation Presentation to COL Overton

john overton 3

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Peter Overton, Jessica Rowe, Rebecca Ellis and COL Overton as the citation is read by BRIG Rosenfeld


View a short video

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Major Trevor Carter

The Trustees of the RAAMC Assn are proud to announce the appointment of Major Trevor Carter as the Association's Honorary Legal Officer. Major Carter is a serving member of the of the Australian Army Legal Corps with many years service in the Army including active service in South Vietnam where he served with 5 RAR as a Platoon Medic and Stretcher Bearer. Major Carter currently serves at Victoria Barracks in Paddington as a Legal Officer.

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LCPL John Gillespie

LCPL John Gillespie

Photo by courtesy of the Australian Defence Force

Gillespie Crash Site

The remains of Lance Corporal (LCPL) John Gillespie, a Medical Assistant, formerly of 8th Field Ambulance, were repatriated from Hanoi to Australia today.

LCPL Gillespie was killed when the 9th Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) UH1H (Huey) helicopter he was traveling in was shot down over South Vietnam on 17 April 1971. The helicopter was tasked to evacuate a wounded South Vietnamese soldier in the vicinity of the Long Hai hills near Vung Tau, South Vietnam.

On impact, the helicopter caught fire. LCPL Gillespie was trapped in the wreckage of the helicopter and could not be rescued because of the ferocity of the fire. Due to the intensity of the fighting, the remains of LCPL Gillespie could not be recovered.

In recent times, a group of former servicemen formed an organisation, Operations Aussies Home (OAH), dedicated to finding and repatriating the remains of the six Australian Servicemen left in South Vietnam after Australia withdrew from the country. So far, OAH, in conjunction with the Australian Army, has identified and repatriated three of the missing servicemen.

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Bearer Party

Photo by courtesy of the Australian Defence Force
Soldiers from 1st Combat Service Support Battalion form the bearer party for the remains of Lance Corporal (LCPL) John Gillespie at Hanoi Airport in Vietnam.


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