Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said this documentary captures the life and war experiences of an ordinary man who did extraordinary things on the battlefield, which earnt him Australia’s highest military honour for bravery.
“This week marks 51 years since Mr Payne rescued his company’s wounded from enemy held territory during a fierce action, ignoring his own wounds and under heavy fire,” Mr Chester said.
“Mr Payne searched the area for three hours for isolated and wounded soldiers — he found some 40 wounded men, rescuing many himself and organising the rescue of others.
“This bravery and looking after his mates is something that Mr Payne carried on after leaving the defence force, being a strong advocate for his fellow veterans, with Ray Martin putting it as simply as ‘Keith has arguably done more since he was awarded the VC, than he did to get the VC’.”
“Mr Payne’s story is one that will resonate with all Australians — from his fellow Vietnam veterans to the next generation of school children learning about the Vietnam War for the first time.
“Australians should never forget the service and sacrifice of those such as Mr Payne and others who fought during the Vietnam War, where almost 60,000 Australians served during a decade of conflict and tragically, 521 died.”
The documentary produced by Max Uechtritz of Kundu Productions and hosted by Ray Martin, captures emotional reunions with fellow veterans and tells the relatively untold story of Mr Payne. The project was supported by a range of stakeholders, including the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Australian War Memorial.
The documentary will air tonight Wednesday, 27 May, on SBS at 8.30pm. It will be available online to view at SBS On Demand.