Leading Air Crewman Noel Ervin Shipp

Leading Air Crewman Noel Ervin Shipp

Noel Ervin Shipp was born in Brisbane, Queensland on 24 December 1944 and joined the RAN on 10 January 1963, as an underwater control rating.

Shipp transferred to the air crewman category in July 1967 and the following year was posted to the RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam (RANHFV). The RANHFV was integrated with the US Army 135th Assault Helicopter Company, flying Iroquois helicopters in utility and gunship configurations.

Shipp soon found himself flying as a helicopter door-gunner with the “Taipans”, the 135th’s gunship platoon. In this role he flew numerous missions providing suppression fire for troop-lift helicopters and he also participated in frequent ground assaults on enemy positions and troop concentrations.

On 31 May 1969, aircraft of the 135th were extracting elements of the 7th Infantry Division (Army Republic of Vietnam) from a pick-up zone in Dinh Tuong Province when they came under intense fire from automatic weapons. Three aircraft were damaged and one pilot was injured, necessitating his immediate medical evacuation.

The aircraft in which Shipp was flying immediately proceeded to the pick-up zone and began making rocket attack runs on the enemy position. With complete disregard for his own safety, Shipp hung outside his aircraft, exposing himself to rocket back blast and intense enemy fire to bring more effective fire to bear on the target. At this point of the action Shipp’s pilot was hit by enemy fire and the gunship rapidly lost altitude before crashing and exploding in the jungle below. All four crew members perished.

During the entire run, up until the moment of impact, Shipp was seen delivering devastating fire into the enemy positions.


Image: Informal portrait by Ian Maxwell Speedy, March 1969
Australian War Memorial Collection