Colin F. Jones

LEST WE FORGET ~ WARRANT OFFICER “DASHER” K.A. WHEATLEY, VC

IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: September 13, 2002
Awarded: September 13, 2002
Tra Bong Valley, Special Forces,
in the province of Quang Ngni,
Seek to destroy the Viet Cong,
Thus it is do or die.

Adviser Wheatley and R.J. Swanton,
Moved with the right platoon,
Making contact with Viet Cong,
Who were attacking very soon.

Swanton was hit in the chest,
As the Viet Cong rushed in,
The Platoon broke and scattered wide,
Leaving defences very thin.

Discarding his radio Wheatley dragged,
His friend into the trees,
Through the open muddy paddy-field,
Soft mud up to his knees

A Civil irregular defence group man,
Private Dinh Do helped him out,
While pleading that they get away,
Find a rapid exit out.

But Wheatley refused to leave his friend,
Though he would surely die,
He pulled the pins from two grenades,
And screamed a battle cry

Two explosions and some shots were heard,
Warrant Officer Wheatley died,
He lay beside his gunshot friend:
Both dead there side by side.

WO Dasher Wheatley and WO LJ Dowsett with Montagnard Tribesmen: Quang Tri, South Vietnam 1965
Quang Tri, South Vietnam 1965: Warrant Officer 2 K.A. "Dasher" Wheatley (left) and WO2 L.J. Dowsett with Montagnard tribesmen. WO2 R.J. Swanton and Captain Allan (A.S.) Hinds, visiting Australian Public Relations Officer, are in the background.

Author’s Note: “Dasher” Wheatley’s body was returned to Australia for burial at Pine Grove Memorial Park, Blacktown, N.S.W. His name is commemorated in the N.S.W. Garden of Remembrance at Rookwood War Cemetery.

In 1967, a trophy for Annual Competition between the Australian Services Rugby Union Football Union was inaugurated in his name. A sports arena at Vung Tau, Vietnam and the Land Warfare Centre, Conungra Soldiers Club were named after him and his photo and citation are displayed in the Hall of Hero’s, John F Kennedy centre for military assistance, Fort Bragg, NC, USA.

The US also awarded him the Silver Star. He was made a Knight of the National Order of the Republic of Vietnam, and received the Military Merit Medal and Cross of Gallantry with Palm.