War hero to open Gallipoli Room
VICTORIA Cross winner and Vietnam War hero Keith Payne is coming to Maryborough in March fresh from 13 days in Vietnam helping the American team that attempts to recover bodies of deceased servicemen and women from the Pacific area.
Mr Payne, who came to Maryborough in 2007 to unveil his carved wooden bust now in the museum, will open the Gallipoli Room in the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum on March 20.
“We were going to open the room on March 13,” museum founder John Meyers said yesterday.
“But the Americans have requested Keith and Gerry Dellwo, the US medic travelling with them in 1969, to accompany them to Da Nang to try and locate the remains of Sergeant First Class Montez who commanded the right flank company (and Keith the left) during the action for which Keith was awarded the Victoria Cross on May 24, 1969.”
Mr Meyers said he and his museum volunteers had worked for six months on getting the room together – at a cost of $40,000.
“Other than Victoria Crosses the room contains the most significant collection of Gallipoli medals in the world.
“We have 65 medals for 65 soldiers decorated on Gallipoli – mostly Australians. We also have 40 medals to 40 officers killed there, out of the 370 Australian officers killed.
“The Australian War Memorial has nine Gallipoli VCs but it does not have gallantry medals to as many soldiers as what we have in our Gallipoli Room.”
Mr Meyers said he was expecting people from all over Australia to come to the opening at the Wharf Street museum.