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AIR FORCE November 12, 2009
Defence Families of Australia - National Convenor Position
Defence Families of Australia (DFA) is an independent, not for profit organisation
officially representing Defence family priorities. DFA is seeking to appoint a new
This dynamic position reports directly to the Minister for Defence Personnel,
Materiel and Science and the Chief of the Defence Force. The National
Convenor's primary focus is to lead and represent this voluntary organisation, by
advocating the issues affecting Defence families.
The ideal applicant will be confident in liaising with the most senior levels of
Government and Defence. They must possess excellent communication skills,
have a strong knowledge of the challenges facing a modern ADF family and
ideally have a background in advocacy or policy development.
This paid part time position is open to partners of current full time serving
members of the ADF, and is based in Canberra.
A detailed job information package is available at;
For any further enquiries please contact
or phone: 1800 100 509
By Andrew Stackpool
A FORMER helicopter pilot who
supported Australian soldiers involved
in the desperate life or death struggle at
the Long Tan rubber plantation in South
Vietnam on August 18, 1966 has been
posthumously honoured for his courage
and flying skills.
Former FLTLT Cliff Dohle has been
awarded the Distinguished Service Medal,
the contemporary equivalent of the
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).
Clifford Mitchell Dohle was born in
Hamilton, Victoria, on May 2, 1935.
He enlisted in the Air Force and on
December 1, 1960, gained his commis-
He was promoted to FLTLT on June
On June 12, 1966, he was posted
as a pilot with 9SQN, flying Iroquois
UH-1H 'Huey' helicopters in Vietnam.
On July 10, FLTLT Dohle was flying
one of two Iroquois assigned to extract a
six-man SAS patrol.
The pick-up was to have been covered
by two US gunships, but they were late
arriving. Nevertheless, the two 9SQN air-
craft carried on and landed.
As they did so they came under fire;
however, they completed the extraction
and took off.
Later, the SAS men told them that there
had been 20 Viet Cong (VC) within 20
meters of the helicopters.
The Battle of Long Tan occurred after
6RAR's Delta Company engaged an
enemy force of between 700 and 2500
local Viet Cong, and North Vietnamese
Army main force troops they had been
searching for outside the 1st Australian
Task Force headquarters at Nui Dat in
Phuoc Tuy Province.
As the battle raged in blinding mon-
soonal storms and gathering darkness, the
Australian troops were running low on
Two 'Hueys', piloted by FLTLT Dohle
and FLTLT Frank Riley, had dropped a
concert party at Nui Dat earlier that day
and, despite the almost nil visibility and
appalling flying conditions, the two chop-
pers were readied and took off.
Reaching the battlefield, they hovered
at tree-top height and dropped the blanket-
wrapped ammunition boxes to the belea-
guered company below.
The resupply was the factor in Delta
Company not running out of ammunition
and being able to hold its position.
On October 18, 1966, FLTLT Dohle
was captain of a helicopter sent to support
a 5RAR operation on Nui Thi Vai moun-
tain in western Phuoc Tuy province.
On board was the crew of four, two
army engineers and five boxes of explo-
THANKS, MATE: It is June 19, 1966, and CO Delta Coy, 6RAR, MAJ Harry Smith thanks FLTLT Cliff
Dohle for his airdrop in atrocious weather of ammunition to his beleaguered company the evening before.
Air support commander GPCAPT Peter Raw looks on.
Photos: Courtesy Australian War Memorial
On reaching the landing zone,
FLTLT Dohle hovered while work-
ing out how to get safely down.
He decided to overshoot, but
the aircraft failed to respond and
crashed into trees beside the pad.
All six men on board were
injured; however, as FLTLT Dohle
had warned them to brace for
impact, their injuries were minim-
FLTLT Dohle suffered a com-
pression fracture of the spine and
although he was able to crawl away
from the wreck, his injuries were
serious. After his evacuation, FLTLT
Dohle's Air Force career effectively
As a result of his actions at Long
Tan, FLTLT Dohle was recommend-
ed for the DFC by all levels of the
Australian command in Vietnam.
The medal was never forthcom-
ing; however FLTLT Riley received
a DFC for his actions during the bat-
tle at Long Tan.
He received his medal on
November 20, 1967.
FLTLT Dohle was Mentioned
in Dispatches (MID) on the same
day.He died last February.
Setting the record straight
One of the myths concerning
the battle claims that the two
aircraft flew in defiance of direct
orders from the Task Force air
support commander, GPCAPT
The myth states that
GPCAPT Raw and other senior
Air Force officers were threat-
ened with 'dire consequences' if
they didn't change their minds.
GPCAPT Raw was most
concerned whether a flight
would be possible because of
the appalling conditions, the very
real danger of the aircraft being
shot down and his concerns that
smoke markers from the ground
may not be seen in the weather
and low light. This would risk the
ammunition not being received
by Delta Coy.
Task Force commander BRIG
Oliver Jackson was reportedly
incensed that GPCAPT Raw
seemed to be prevaricating as
he was on the verge of losing
more than 100 men and, to him,
the risk of a couple of helicop-
ters and their aircrew was minis-
cule by comparison. GPCAPT
Raw sought advice from his four
aircrew. Two said the flight was
possible; the others that it was
not.However, his decision was
weighted by the argument of
the most-experienced pilot,
FLTLT Lane, who said that
regardless of the cost the mis-
sion must be flown and that
with two aircraft one at least
should get through.
Consequently, GPCAPT Raw
authorised the flight.
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