Written by Norman Cramp, Director of the Darwin Military Museum.
A true Territory man
A true soldier
There are numerous stories of his bravery while serving in Vietnam, such as the seven times he entered tunnels that were suspected of housing Viet Cong forces. Another story discussed the occasion on which Reg followed the tracks of two Viet Cong soldiers through dense jungle in the district of Ben Cat. Despite the enemy’s attempts to hide in the jungle and wait for Reg to give up, he stuck to the task and to their tracks, finally discovering a large Viet Cong base in which important intelligence was located.
A loss to the Territory
He was buried in the Terendak Cemetery, Malaysia, where he remained for over 50 years. In recognition of his bravery during the period he served in Vietnam, Reg was Mentioned in Despatches by the Australian Army and was awarded the Vietnamese Military Merit Medal, along with the Gallantry Cross with Palm by the government of South Vietnam. He was described in various citations covering his awards as being a courageous combatant.
He was one of 25 Australians who had paid the supreme sacrifice in Vietnam and whose remains were left interred in a foreign land (Malaysia and Singapore) after all others had been returned to Australia by either the Commonwealth government, or the deceased person’s family. In Reg’s case, his family was unable to source the £500 required to bring him home, hence, he remained in Malaysia, a long way from home for over half a century. But this situation was about to be addressed with Reg and his mates being returned to Australia by the Commonwealth government’s Office of Australian War Graves.
Bringing Reg home
On Monday 25th May 2015, the news broke that the prime minister had agreed to repatriate the last twenty-five of our Vietnam War dead given the families of the soldiers wished for their remains to be returned to Australia. Of the twenty-five, twenty-two families agreed, including Reg Hillier’s. Reg returned home to the NT in June 2016 following which as memorial service was held at Christ Church Cathedral, Darwin on Saturday 11th June and re-interment at the Adelaide River War Cemetery on Sunday 12.