107 Australian Defence Force personnel, from all three services, have been decorated with the US Meritorious Unit Citation for their work in rescue and recovery efforts following the crash of a USMC MV-22B Osprey aircraft last year.
The aircraft crashed into the Coral Sea off Rockhampton on the 6th August 2017 with twenty-six American personnel onboard. Unfortunately, one pilot and two marines were killed in the incident. The aircraft had launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard and had just finished up their involvement in the seventh bilateral Talisman Sabre exercise with the Australian Defence Force.
Australian forces were involved in the initial rescue operation and then over the following fortnight supported in locating and recovering the wreckage. Royal Australian Navy Clearance dive teams mounted fourteen separate dives, in some challenging conditions, as part of these operations after the vessel was located in some 40m water by hydrographic survey ship HMAS Melville.
The awards were made on Monday morning aboard the helicopter carrier HMAS Adelaide in Sydney Harbour during a visit by the head of the US Marine Corps in the Pacific, Lieutenant General David Berger.
Those receiving the commendation were drawn from a number of units including; Clearance Diving Team One, the crew of HMAS Melville, Australian Mine Warfare Team Sixteen and other supporting members from the Australian Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Task Group.
Speaking after the presentations were made Australian Defence Minister, Senator Marise Payne, highlighted the significance of the General presenting the awards in person.
“The United States Meritorious Unit Commendation is a great honour for our service members and the Australian public can be proud of what our people achieved.
The support we provided to the US Marine Corps is a testament to our relationship with the United States.
The commendation praises the Australians’ ‘unrelenting perseverance and unfailing devotion to duty’ and their actions are in the finest traditions of the ADF.”