Home' Air Force News : December 10th 2009 Contents 25
AIR FORCE December 10, 2009
Jack's actions honoured
By MAJ John McPherson
"WE COME here today to honour
With these words the CO of the
Special Air Service Regiment (SASR)
encapsulated the feeling of many of
the hundreds of family, friends,
dignitaries and serving SASR soldiers
who gathered at the funeral of former
Air Force Sergeant Jack Wong Sue at
Campbell Barracks, Perth, on November
29. Mr Sue was aged 84.
Jack Wong Sue was born on
September 25, 1925, the son of a
Chinese doctor named Wong Shiu See
and Mary Magdalene Clements.
Despite his mixed parentage
(unusual for the time), Jack had an
ordinary childhood and became an
When war broke out, at the age of
14, he formed his first dance band and
performed for visiting servicemen.
At the age of 16 he was working as
an office boy with a firm called Atwood
Motors when someone gave him a white
feather, the symbol of cowardice during
the war years.
Jack immediately endeavoured to
enlist but was unsuccessful. Instead,
he managed to join the Norwegian
merchant marine and spent the six
months of the war dodging German U-
boats between Australia, South Africa
and the Middle East.
After returning, on his 18th birthday
he tried to enlist in the Navy but was
Consequently, on the same day he
enlisted in the RAAF. Because of his
sea experience, he was posted to the
service's Air Sea Rescue boats.
As well as maritime skills, Jack was
fluent in Malay and Chinese. Because of
these skills and his Chinese appearance,
in 1944, he was offered a position with
Z Special Unit.
He trained in Queensland and then
was part of the Z Special Unit team
which landed behind Japanese lines in
Borneo to carry out surveillance and
sabotage of Japanese forces and train
local resistance forces.
For his actions he was awarded the
Distinguished Conduct Medal.
At the end of the war, he discharged
on January 21, 1946 and returned to
Perth. There, he opened a dive shop
-- the first in Western Australia, which
grew into a major enterprise. In 1951, he
started Jack Sue Skindivers and became
a major figure in the world of scuba
diving for decades to follow.
He also conducted tours to Borneo,
played in several bands and wrote
two books; one of his experiences
with Z Special Unit, the other about a
shipwreck off the West Australian coast.
His jungle training and experience
also stood him in good stead as,
although a civilian, he instructed and
advised his successors, the SASR, on
jungle warfare and survival.
For his various enterprises, he was
awarded the Order of Australia Medal
Because of the esteem in which he
was held in the west as well as by the
regiment, the SASR offered to hold his
funeral and wake at its barracks.
His funeral was attended by several
high-ranking dignitaries from Western
Australia as well as local senior ADF
In his closing remarks, the SASR
CO summed up the feelings of respect
LAST FAREWELL: Family and friends carry SGT Jack Wong Sue's coffin
to his funeral at Campbell Barracks in Perth.
Photo: Steve Ferrier
By Andrew Stackpool
MEMBERS who attended the Combined Ser-
geants'/Corporals' Mess Dinner at RAAF Base
Richmond recently took the unusual step of remem-
bering the service of a regiment and a sergeant who
served and died in the Windsor, NSW, district 172
SGT William Horton served with the 80th
Regiment of Foot (Staffordshire Volunteers), which
served in NSW from 1836 to 1841.
He died on December 27, 1837, and was buried at
St Matthew's Anglican Church there.
He seems to have been a most respected soldier
and NCO as, unusual for the time, his fellow sergeants
erected a tombstone over his grave.
WOFF Geoff Banning, WOFF Kylie Wilmot, CPL
Tony Steuregger and Army's WO1 David Jahene fell
in by SGT Horton's graveside.
WOFF Banning offered a toast: "As the NCOs at
RAAF Base Richmond gather tonight, it is proper that
we pay tribute to those NCOs who have gone before;
even those who died 172 years ago.
"To the memory of a good and worthy NCO, SGT
Horton. To the officers, NCOs and ordinary soldiers
of the 80th Foot who all played a part in establishing
the colony and founding the great nation we now call
WOFF Banning had seen the grave a couple of
years ago and decided to do a bit more research.
"I felt that as CMC of the Sergeants' Mess, I
should not let the memory of a fellow SNCO not be
honoured," he said. "Also, I thought it was a good way
to make members of the mess aware of the links we
have with our colonial past.
"In honouring a fellow SNCO, I felt pride of my
service in the Air Force and my membership of the
Sergeants' Mess," he said.
COMRADES STILL: WOFF Geoff Banning, WO1
David Jahene, WOFF Kylie Willmot and CPL Tony
Steuregger salute SGT William Horton.
Photo: SGT Brett Sherriff
in which Jack Wong Sue was held.
"Through his actions, Jack achieved
something that he probably never set
out to achieve, and that few will ever
really understand," he said.
"The redoubtable respect reserved
by warriors ... for warriors. Jack Sue
was a true son of Australia.
"May his spirit guide us, and watch
over us, as we, the members of the
SASR, strive to reach his benchmark.
"May he rest in peace."
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