Remembrance Driveway

Victoria Cross Citations

Wheatley
Photo: Australian War Memorial

Kevin Arthur Wheatley VC

29890 Warrant Officer Class II Kevin Arthur WHEATLEY
Australian Army Training Team Vietnam
13 November 1965, at Tra Bong Valley, Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam

On 13th November 1965 at approximately 1300 hours, a Vietnamese Civil Irregular Defence Group company commenced a search and destroy operation in the Tra Bong Valley. Accompanying the force were Captain F Fazekas and Warrant Officers KA Wheatley and RG Swanton. At about 1340 hours, Warrant Officer Wheatley reported contact with the enemy. Enemy resistance strengthened and finally Warrant Officer Wheatley asked for assistance. Captain Fazekas immediately organised the centre platoon to help and personally led and fought towards the action area. While moving forward 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 aircraft, for the evacuation of casualties.

At about this time the right platoon broke in the face of heavy enemy fire and began to scatter. Although told by the medical assistant that Warrant Officer Swanton was dying, Warrant Officer Wheatley refused to abandon him. He discarded his radio to enable him to half drag, half carry Warrant Officer Swanton, under heavy machine-gun and automatic rifle fire, out of the open rice paddies into the comparative safety of a wooded area, some 200 metres away. He was assisted by a Private Dinh Do who, when the Viet Cong were only some ten metres away, urged him to leave his dying comrade. Again he refused, and was seen to pull the pins from two grenades and calmly awaited the enemy, holding one grenade in each hand. Shortly afterwards, two grenade explosions were heard, followed by several bursts of small arms fire. The two bodies were found at first light next morning after the fighting had ceased, with Warrant Officer Wheatley lying beside Warrant Officer Swanton. Both had died of gunshot wounds.

"Warrant Officer Wheatley displayed magnificent courage in the face of an overwhelming Viet Cong force which was later estimated at more than a company. He had the clear choice of abandoning a wounded comrade and saving himself by escaping or of staying with Warrant Officer Swanton and thereby facing certain death. He deliberately chose the latter course. His acts of heroism, determination and unflinching loyalty in the face of the enemy will always stand as examples of the true meaning of valour"

[London Gazette: 13 December 1996; Supplement, 15 December 1966]

Kevin Arthur WHEATLEY was born in Sydney on 13 March 1937. He was buried at Pine Grove Memorial Park, Blacktown, New South Wales.