Whether it be a George Cross for defusing mines during the World War II blitz of the UK, an American Silver Star for flying helicopters into intense enemy fire in Vietnam, or a Conspicuous Service Medal for quietly ‘just getting the job done’, these are the stories of the men and women who have been decorated for their service to the Royal Australian Navy. Some stories are mundane, but give the public an insight into the daily running of our Navy. Others, whose feats of courage under fire or bravery in risking their own lives in saving the lives of others, on and off duty, are truly inspiring.
Between 1900 and 2014 over 3,750 Australian naval people received awards for their efforts, courage, sacrifice and service to the nation. Most of their feats have remained untold until now. This book tells the stories of the brave, the inspiring and the dedicated servicemen and women whom have gone above and beyond their call of duty. Until now a comprehensive list of awards has been missing in the annals of Australian naval history and this publication fills that gap for those with a passionate interest in the subject or even the casual browser.
For the past six years Ian Pfennigwerth has been working with a team of volunteer researchers to explore the background of these honours and awards – Imperial, Australian, and foreign, and the result is a book compiled for a general readership – the Australian public. It has been written so that those with no knowledge of things naval will understand the significance of each award and become acquainted with the history of Australia’s naval forces and their activities and achievements across a tumultuous 115 years since Federation, as well as enjoying a good read.
Volume 2 of Bravo Zulu: Honours and Awards to Australian Naval People resumes the account of the development and activities of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) from the inception of the Order of Australia in 1975, revealed through the stories of its recipients honours and awards for courage, achievement and bravery.
Written simply and without jargon, the book covers the Navy’s continuing battle to avoid obsolescence of its ships and aircraft, the dire effects of the 1982 decision not to replace its aircraft carrier and its resurgence, as the operational tempo accelerated after the government committed Australia to operations in the Middle East in 1990, primarily in the maritime environment. Readers will learn of the heroic and innovative efforts required to prepare ships, aircraft and men for the quite the different forms of warfare which have emerged from Australia’s second longest military engagement. At the same time, the Navy introduced into service a range of internationally-respected new surface ships, submarines and helicopters and their advanced combat and weapons systems.
Throughout the period to 2014, when Volume 2 concludes, change has been the order of the day in the Australian Defence Force. Rationalisations, reviews, and reorganisations appeared in quick succession – with mixed success – but all involving turbulence for the people caught up in them. Recruiting, training and deploying the right people to fulfil all the demands put on the RAN became and remains a major concern for naval leaders. Navy people have found themselves posted to ‘interesting’ places, ranging from South Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan to Spain, Turkey, Mongolia and the highest echelons of the US Department of Defence.
All this is contained in eleven chapters, one each devoted to the 1991 Gulf War, the RAN’s involvement in the Middle East from 1996, and its vital role in UN efforts to stabilise East Timor seeking independence from Indonesia in 1999. As for Volume 1, it is lavishly illustrated with informative maps and diagrams, and the Index of Recipients contains over 1,800 names and their location in the text.
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