Rayene Stewart Simpson – Victoria Cross Vietnam

WO II RS Simpson VC

British Military Medals- Victoria Cross. Highest award for Bravery

Rayene Stewart Simpson was born on the 16th of February, 1926, the third child of Robert William and Olga Maude Simpson of Redfern, Sydney, Australia. His mother deserted the family in 1931. Stewart was placed in the Church of England Home for Boys. He attended Carlingford and Dumaresque Island Public Schools at Taree, New South Wales.

Stewart worked as a laborer prior to enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force on March 15th, 1944. He served on Morotai, and at Tarakan, Borneo, and Rabaul, New Guinea. His service in the Imperial Force ended at Sydney on January 27, 1947.

Simpson enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in January of 1951 and in June of the same year was sent to Korea as a reinforcement for the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in November, 1951, and was promoted to corporal in January 1953.

During this period he married Shoko Sakai, a Japanese lady on 5 March 1952. Simpson was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, in January 1954 and served with that unit in Malaya for two years from October 1955. His next assignment was to the 1st Special Air Service Company in November 1957. Steward remained with that unit until his assignment to the first group of advisers with the Australian Army Training Team, Vietnam (AATTV).

Simpson's team flew to Vietnam in July 1962. After a year in Vietnam he returned to the Special Air Service until returning 12 months later on his second tour of duty with the AATTV in July 1964. During his second tour he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his actions when his patrol was ambushed in September 1964.

Simpson was promoted to sergeant in July 1965 and to Warrant Officer Class 2 in July 1964. In May 1966 Simpson left the Army for a second time in May 1966.

Simpson again re-enlisted a year later and traveled straight to Saigon, South Vietnam for his third tour of duty with the AATTV. At the time when he was awarded the Victoria Cross he was serving in Kontum province near the Laotian border, as commander of a Mobile Strikes Force.

Serving as commander of the 232nd Mobile Strike Force Company of 5th Special Forces Group on a search and clear operation near the Laos border in the vicinity of Kontum province, he led his company to the assistance of one of his platoons who had become heavily engaged in battle with enemy forces.
Simpson had placed himself in the forefront of his counter attacking unit, and taking fire from enemy combatants, led his company to attack the enemy's left flank. During this movement, one of the Australian Warrant Officers commanding one of the platoons was seriously wounded and the assault began to fall apart.

Simpson, at great personal risk and under heavy fire, moved across open ground, reached the wounded Warrant Officer and carried him safety. He then returned to his company where, with complete disregard for his safety, he crawled forward to within 10 meters of the enemy and threw grenades into their positions. As darkness fell, and being unable to break into the enemy position, Warrant Officer Simpson ordered his company to withdraw. He then threw smoke grenades and, carrying a wounded platoon leader, covered the withdrawal of the company together with five indigenous fighters.

His leadership and personal bravery in this action were outstanding. On 11 May 1969, in the same operation, Warrant Officer Simpson's Battalion Commander was killed and an Australian Warrant Officer and several indigenous soldiers were wounded. In addition, one other Australian Warrant Officer who had been separated from the majority of his troops was contained in the area by enemy fire.

Warrant Officer Simpson quickly organized two platoons of indigenous soldiers and several advisers and led them to the position of the contact. On reaching the position the element with Warrant Officer Simpson came under heavy fire and all but a few of the soldiers with him fell back. Disregarding his own safety, he moved forward in the face of accurate enemy machine gun fire, in order to cover the initial evacuation of the casualties. The wounded were eventually moved out of the line of enemy fire, which all this time was directed at Warrant Officer Simpson from close range.

At the risk of almost certain death, he made several attempts to move further towards his Battalion Commander's body, but on each occasion he was stopped by heavy fire. Realizing the situation was quickly eroding, Simpson, alone and still under enemy fire, covered the evacuation of the wounded by placing himself between his wounded soldiers and the enemy. From this position, he fought on and by outstanding courage and valor was able to slow the enemy advance until the wounded were removed.

Simpson's gallant action and his coolness under fire were instrumental in evacuating the wounded to the landing zone (LZ) for removal by helicopter. Simpson's repeated acts of personal bravery in this operation were an inspiration to all Vietnamese, United States and Australian soldiers who served with him.

Simpson received his Victoria Cross from the Queen during a ceremony in Sydney on 1 May 1970. The United States awarded him the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for Velor. Simpson took up a position as administrative officer at the Australian embassy in Tokyo in 1972. He died of cancer in Tokyo on 18 October 1978 and was buried and the Yokohama war cemetery in Japan.

Simpson's medals and a portrait are displayed in the Hall of Valor at the Australian War Memorial. His photographs and citation are displayed in the Hall of Heroes at the John F Kennedy Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, USA.

It's Goodbye from me

Regards

Barry



Source by Barry Sheppard

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