United States presents two Australians with prestigious combat award for heroism in Vietnam

14 December, 2021 – U.S. Embassy Canberra

United States Chargé d’Affaires Michael Goldman today presented the Silver Star Medal to Australian Defence Force Group Captain Macaulay Cottrell (retd.) and the family of the late Warrant Officer 2 Kevin Wheatley at a ceremony in Canberra for exceptional valor in combat while serving with U.S. military units in Vietnam.  

The Silver Star is the third-highest military combat decoration that can be awarded by the United States.  Of the approximately 23,000 Silver Stars awarded in Vietnam, only six recipients have been members of the Australian military.

 Then-Flying Officer Macaulay Cottrell distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force as Forward Air Controller directing fighter aircraft near Lai Khe, Republic of Vietnam on 10 Jun 1968. On that date, Flying Officer Cottrell disregarded  intense hostile ground fire and adverse weather conditions to successfully pinpoint the unfriendly positions for combat support missions.   The great bravery and devotion to duty shown by Flying Officer Contrell is a credit to him and  the Royal Australian Air Force.

Warrant Officer Kevin Wheatley distinguished himself by heroism in the face of enemy fire during Operation Lan Son 190, Ba Long Valley, Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam.  On 18 August 1965, Warrant Officer Wheatley was the assistant advisor to the lead element of the 1st Battalion, 1st Regiment, when the battalion discovered a Viet Cong village.  Warrant Officer Wheatley led the charge to capture the village in the face of enemy fire, and with complete disregard for his own safety, pursued the Viet Cong through automatic fire and hand grenade assaults.  Warrant Officer Wheatley’s bravery was an inspiring example and in keeping with the highest traditions of military leadership.

“The Silver Star medal is a highly significant award honoring remarkable acts of service”, said Charge d’Affaires Goldman. “Group Captain Cottrell and Warrant Officer Wheatley are being recognized for their actions during the Vietnam conflict, while serving with U.S. military units. Both Officers illustrated remarkable bravery and sacrifice”

(L-R) Governor General David Hurley, former Flying Officer and Silver Star recipient Macaulay Cottrell, and United States Chargé d’Affaires Michael Goldman.

The award ceremony honors Flying Officer Cotrell and Warrant Officer Wheatley’s distinguished service, in keeping with the long and close ties between the U.S. and Australian militaries.

“The service and sacrifice of our Australian counterparts is not lost on us, nor is the camaraderie and mateship we have long found in you”, said Michael Goldman. “The U.S.-Australia Alliance – and the strong democratic values at its core – is an anchor for peace and stability in the region. It will continue to deliver for Australians, Americans, and our friends and partners throughout the world. And it will do so because of men and women like Group Captain Cottrell and Warrant Officer Wheatley, who we have the honor of recognizing today.”

Following the award ceremony, Chargé d’Affaires Michael Goldman and Defense Attaché Colonel Scott Weston hosted a reception for the families of the recipients, Governor General David Hurley, and other distinguished guests.

U.S. Defense Attaché Col. Scott Weston and George Wheatley (son of SilverStar recipient Warrant Officer Kevin Wheatley (dec.)

 

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