Dave Lassam's story

Dave Lassam joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1978. After completing the initial 12-week recruit training, he started a 9-month medical training course at HMAS Cerberus to become a medic.

Dave's first sea posting was with the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne. While serving on Melbourne, he witnessed several major incidents.

In June 1981, Melbourne rescued 99 Vietnamese refugees from a broken-down fishing boat drifting in the South China Sea. It was a dangerous night-time rescue in rough seas. Dave remembered the once-in-a-lifetime event as a ‘real morale booster'.

In 2005, while serving on HMAS Kanimbla, a Sea King helicopter crashed during Operation Sumatra Assist 11 following the Nias earthquake. Nine navy personnel were killed in the accident, including one of Dave's medic team.

Then in 2008, Dave saw a Black Hawk helicopter crash while trying to land on HMAS Kanimbla during a special operations assault exercise. Two men were killed.

Dave remembered that despite the horror of these unfortunate events, the crews and teams reacted professionally to the emergencies, and that their training came to the fore.

During his naval career, Dave deployed to East Timor in a small medical team sent to support the Australian Army as it secured Dili and the port area in 2006. Then in 2002, while stationed in Darwin, Dave helped arrange transport and treatment of Australian nationals injured in the Bali bombing. He felt proud of the work he did.

While attached to Joint Forces Command, Dave helped set up a hospital in the United Arab Emirates to assist with the evacuation of Australian personnel who might become casualties in the conflict in Afghanistan. It was a task in which he had to work closely with the United States personnel.

Last updated: 19 December 2022

Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2022), Dave Lassam's story, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 9 June 2023, https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/stories/oral-histories/dave-lassams-story
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