WONZ 251 – Max Speedy’s Vietnam War


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Guest: Max Speedy

Host: Dave Homewood

Recorded: 23rd of November 2021

Released: 28th of December 2021

Duration: 1 hour 48 minutes 56 seconds

In this episode, Royal Australian Navy Vietnam veteran and historian Max Speedy starts off by giving an overview of the background history of the Vietnam War, and how the Australian and New Zealand forces ended up there. He then details the Battle of Long Tan, which involved the Australian and New Zealand armies versus the North Vietnamese, and some of the No. 9 Squadron Iroquois RAAF crews.

Then Max moves into his own personal story of flying UH-1 “Huey” helicopters as a Royal Australian Navy pilot, posted in 1968 as 2iC of the RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam with the US Army 135th Assault Helicopter Company. During his year-long tour in Vietnam, he flew 1250 hours on combat assault missions with American and South Vietnamese troops. He was 1st Slick Platoon Leader for about 4 months (leading 10 Slicks in combat assaults) and later Air Mission Commander directing the Slicks and Gunships from the Command & Control aircraft. He flew most of the aircraft that were in Vietnam in that period, but mostly the UH-1H Slick and the UH-1C gunship.

Max was decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross which was presented by HM The Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. He also has 12 US Air Medals and two Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry.

A Delta rice paddy LZ.
135th Assault Helicopter Company Hueys at a Delta LZ in Trail
Left: LEUT Max Speedy and SBLT Rick Symons on their departure from Australia for South Vietnam. Right: Leut Speedy behind the controls of a Huey as an Air Mission Commander.
Max Speedy with a pistol and knife.
A Huey laying a smoke screen, as described by Max.
Max Speedy these days.
Members of Helicopter Flight Vietnam following the presentation of Unit Citation for Gallantry with the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency The Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove, AK, MC (Retd); Minister of Defence Personnel, The Honourable Darren Chester MP; and Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, AO, CSC, RAN at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. *** Local Caption *** The contribution of 196 Royal Australian Navy members as part of a combined Australian and United States helicopter unit during the Vietnam War has been recognised at a ceremony at the Australian War Memorial. The helicopter pilots, gunners, aircrew and support staff were part of Helicopter Flight Vietnam, integrated with the US Army’s 135th Assault Helicopter Company (AHC) flying helicopters in both utility and gunship configurations. They transported around 250,000 troops per year into and out of battle over a four year period. Members of the Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam (RANHFV) were presented with a Unit Citation for Gallantry at the ceremony. The presentation was conducted by the Governor General of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) along with Minister for Defence Personnel, the Hon Darren Chester MP and Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, AO, CSC, RAN, representing the Chief of Navy Australia.
An idea of the landscape often flown over.
Figures on Bell UH-1 Numbers and losses.

Photos kindly supplied by Max Speedy.

Quick Links:

Max Speedy on the Royal Australian Navy’s website

The No. 9 Squadron RAAF Unit History sheets Operations Record Book – Forms A50 and A51, Jun 62 – Nov 71

Huey Vets 135th AHC

Australian War Memorial

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