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More from Dr Kay Danes OAM on the Chief of Defence Force's decision to strip dead soldiers of their decorations

How dare the ADF Leadership tarnish our 1st Commando Regiment!

How dare the ADF Leadership tarnish our 1st Commando Regiment!

Although not himself a Commando, my husband W01 (Retd) Kerry Danes, a 42 year Veteran and former member of the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR), proudly held the appointment of Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) of the 1st Commando Regiment from 2008/09. The Regiment was raised in 1955, is the oldest unit within Special Operations Command, and in 2008, deployed to Afghanistan to become the first Australian Army Reserve force element on combat operations since World War II. Those men and women who deployed, and all the supporting staff that remained in Australia, served the Regiment with distinction. (The Commando Welfare Trust was established to support all soldiers and families from the Australian Commando Regiments). 

I had the honour of being the very first President of the 1st Commando Regiment Auxiliary that we raised to support the members and their families throughout each rotation. I must say that this was one of the best and worst experiences of my life. The best because I had the privilege of being part of a military family that truly valued each other, and so friendships were formed easily that would last a lifetime, and have. The worst experience too, however, when we mourned at the side of the grave of our fallen hero, Gregory Michael Sher. As a Regiment and with the ADF Leadership, we all stood together in solidarity to mourn the loss and honour the service of one of our fallen soldiers. Today, we all still feel incredible sadness for the Sher family, and deep gratitude for their selfless sacrifice to the Nation!

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Greg’s father, Felix Sher has come forward today in an article in 'The Australian' and says if the Chief of Defence Force Angus Campbell wants to revoke his son’s meritorious service award, he can “collect it himself from my son’s gravestone”.

As members of the Regiment family, Kerry and I will stand alongside Felix to witness that disgraceful act, if need be! We all owe a great debt of gratitude to the Sher family, and all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation.

Felix wrote to General Campbell urging him to reconsider his decision to strip the Meritorious Unit Citation from 3000 special forces task group members to reflect their “collective responsibility” for alleged war crimes committed by 25 soldiers.

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According to The Australian: General Campbell said the decision had been made and would not be reversed. The arrogance of that statement is incredible because it assumes the Governor General of Australia will submit to his flawed decision.

The article also revealed that the government set the wheels in motion to strip the citation from special forces members who served in Afghanistan five months agobefore Defence had even seen the Brereton war crimes report. This is a pre-emptive response from the Government that undermines a judicial process that has not even begun to ascertain whether any of the allegations of war crimes can be upheld, and it also circumvents any decision that will be made by the Governor General of Australia.

Private Gregory Sher, a reservist from the untarnished 1st Commando Regiment, was killed at a forward operating base in Uruzgan province in January 2009, well before the majority of alleged war crimes identified by NSW Supreme Court judge Major General Paul Le Gay Brereton, AM, RFD in his four-year inquiry.

Private Gregory Michael Sher is one of our Nation’s war heroes and his service should not be denigrated by poor leadership decisions. He served with honour and he gave his life for our freedoms, and fought with distinction for the Afghan people. He is among that 99.3 per cent of special forces soldiers who are being punished for the ALLEGED actions of just 0.7 per cent, based on an inquiry that was not bound by the rules of evidence, and is largely written from evidence that has not been tested before a court.

The hurt runs deep for our ADF families because we have lost sons in service. They are your sons too! And as well, many of our bravest came home from war and are struggling with physical and mental health challenges. We the people MUST not stand idle while their reputations are being tarnished. History must remember them as they were, and as those who returned are, our Nation’s heroes!

Where is the support of our ADF Leadership and Politicians now, who were all so quick to attend the funerals of our fallen?

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Lest We Forget. Please stand with us!


Dr Kay Danes, OAM - President of Army Families (WA) Inc 1995/1996/1997, SASR Ladies Auxiliary Member, President of the 1st Commando Regiment Auxiliary 2008/2009, Humanitarian Aid Worker Afghanistan 2008.

In honour of all those who have given service to our ADF, including my husband, WO1 (Retd) Kerry Danes, CSM - RSM of the Special Forces Training Centre (SFTC) 2006/2007, RSM 1st Commando Regiment 2008/2009, RSM Special Operations Task Groups (SOTGs) 2006/2008, OC COLT (Commando Operational Level Training Wing) 2010/2011. (42 year ADF career from August 1976, joining SASR in 1981, reaching Compulsory Retirement Age October 2018).


Please sign and share the PETITION to retain the Meritorious Unit Citation:

Petition: https://www.change.org/.../governor-general-of-australia...

Petition: Voice of a Veteran