Veteran finally honoured after 75 year wait for recognition
WONDAI veteran, Len McLeod, finally received recognition for his years of service during WWII in a humble ceremony last night, 75 years after the war ended.
South Burnett Regional Council Mayor Brett Otto presented Mr McLeod with the Pacific Star for his service before an intimate gathering of family, friends, and councillors at Kingaroy Town Hall.
The Pacific Star is awarded to British and Commonwealth personnel who served in the Pacific between December 8 1941 and September 2 1945.
The lines of dark blue, red, and light blue decorating the ribbon represent the three fighting services: the navy, the army, and the air force.
Mr McLeod began his military career at just 16 years of age, when he left his home town in Melbourne for the country town of Canungra, where he would join the first intake of troops to Jungle Warfare Training.
After a short time, he was shipped off to Port Moresby in New Guinea, where he was placed on the ‘kai’ or ‘biscuit bombers’, which supplied food and ammunition to troops in inaccessible areas. ‘Kai’ is the native word for food.
After coming down with dengue fever and dysentery just weeks after being transferred to the 2/7 Infantry Battalion at Wau and Buna, Mr McLeod was transported to Australia to recover.
It was here that his military career in Australia came to an end, after he was accidentally shot in the hip while hunting for rabbits with a friend.
Despite thinking that he would never walk again, Mr McLeod recovered and joined the US Army Small Ships, an organisation that formed in response to advancing Japanese Forces in the South Pacific.
Now supporting the US war effort, Mr McLeod found himself back in Port Moresby and then Milne Bay.
Despite employing more than 3000 Australian civilians, including one woman, the Australians who served on the Small Ships were never officially recognised for their service.
For this reason, Mr McLeod was taken by surprise last week (June 25) when he was informed that he would be receiving the 1939-45 Star.
In a letter addresses to the SBRC, Secretary of the US Small Ships Association Dan O’Brien said “given the obstacles inherent in trying to prove your participation during the 75th anniversary of victory, when service-related records are not surviving, it is quite a miracle that Len has been awarded the 1939-45 Star”.