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Keith Payne VC AM - A Man of Valour


Mateship, courage and valour – all words that one instantly associates with our past and present war heroes. Words that represent the servicemen and woman that built the foundations of this great southern land.


Despite our unfaltering respective and gratitude to these timeless heroes, there are still some that amaze us through their incredible self-sacrifice and extreme devotion to their duty in the presence of the enemy through incredible acts of valour and gallantry.


In 1856 Queen Victoria inspired the creation of what is still today the Commonwealth’s highest award for valour for a serving member of the armed forces in wartime – the Victoria Cross (VC). Since then and despite the world witnessing devastating regional and world wars, only 100 Australian servicemen have been recognised with this award.


One such hero is Keith Payne VC AM. Born at Ingham, Queensland in 1933, he joined the Australian Army in 1951 and went on to serve in the Korean War, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea before being appointed to the Australian Army Training Team in Vietnam in February 1969.


In May of 1969 in Kontum Province, Warrant Officer Class II Payne was commanding the 212th Company of the 1st Mobile Strike Force Battalion when the battalion came under heavy attack by a powerful and determined North Vietnamese force which ultimately isolated and surrounded the battalion on three sides.


The courageous actions that followed by Warrant Officer Class II Payne lead to the following Victoria Cross citation, being typically understated it states: “Warrant Officer Payne's repeated acts of exceptional personal bravery and unselfish conduct in this operation were an inspiration to all Vietnamese, United States and Australian soldiers who served with him. His conspicuous gallantry was in the highest traditions of the Australian Army.”


What it doesn't state is how Payne exposed himself to heavy enemy fire to temporarily hold off the assault by throwing grenades and firing his own weapon so his men could withdraw and set up a viable defensive perimeter by nightfall, whilst himself sustaining hand and arm wounds. Then, paying no attention to his own wounds and with a complete disregard for his own life through continued heavy fire, Payne under the darkness of the night, spent 3 hours (alone) attempting to find the battalions isolated and wounded soldiers – his mates! He found some 40 isolated and wounded men, returning them to the temporary defensive perimeter only to find that the battalion had moved back, so he proceeded to lead the group back to the battalion base through enemy dominated terrain.


Of this night, Payne modestly said: “They were shooting at my wounded blokes. That really upset me. They were my blokes, something had to be done. You don’t leave your people behind, you do your job.”


Keith Payne received his Victoria Cross from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia in Brisbane on 13th April 1970. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star from the United States, plus the Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star from the Republic of Vietnam for his gallantry during the Vietnam War. Retiring from the Army in 1975, he and his wife remain highly active in counselling and supporting veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.


This exclusive Bradford Mint Silver proof $15 coin commemorates the heroism of Keith Payne VC AM, as well as remembers all our past and present veterans.


  • Honouring a true Australian hero

  • Victoria Cross recipient and true man of valour

  • Commemorating our past and present Australian veterans

  • Limited edition .999 Silver $15 proof coin

  • Bradford Mint worldwide exclusive

Keith Payne VC AM -
A Man of Valour

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