Neil Weekes's story

Neil Harvey Weekes AM MC was born on 21 September 1945 in Mackay, Queensland.

Neil was a young school teacher when he was called up for National Service on 1 February 1967. After officer training, he commanded 3 Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) before being deployed to Vietnam.

In Vietnam, Neil led his platoon in one of Australia's largest series of battles, the Battle of Coral and Balmoral. He recalled the challenges he and his soldiers faced with little preparation and no time to organise a proper defence. He was later awarded the Military Cross for his gallantry.

Neil discharged after returning from Vietnam and finishing his National Service, but soon found himself back in the Army. From 1969 to 1971, he served with 1RAR in Singapore and Malaysia. He went on to serve in Papua New Guinea at Wewak and attended the Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College in Kuala Lumpur.

In 1985, Neil commanded NORFORCE. This military unit was formed to meet a need for a permanent military presence in Northern Australia. Based at Larrakeyah Barracks in Darwin, NORFORCE operations cover around 1.8 million km2 of Northern Australia. The largest area covered by any military unit in the world. Neil was appointed a member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his leadership during this time.

Neil retired in 1993 after 26 years in the Army. He continued serving in the Army Reserve for 5 years. Then he spent much of his retirement advocating for veterans' services, serving as the Townsville patron to the Vietnam Veterans Association, National Servicemen's Association and the RSL. He chaired the North Australian Military Heritage Association and became the Townsville convener of the Order of Australia Association and an inaugural member of Ministerial Advisory Council on Ex-Service Matters.

Neil passed away in 2017.


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DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) ( ), Neil Weekes's story, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 5 March 2024, https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/stories-service/oral-histories/neil-weekess-story
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