Leading Seaman Phillip Charles Kember

Phillip Charles Kember

Leading Seaman Phillip Charles Kember was a member of the first Clearance Diving Team (CDT) to deploy to South Vietnam, serving in country from 5 February until 29 August 1967 with CDT3.

On 20 May 1967 CDT3 was called upon to help salvage a crashed helicopter from the Suoi Giai River near Phu Loi, 25 miles north-north-east of Saigon. As part of a team of three, Kember was flown to the US Army base at Phu Loi and then by helicopter gunship to the crash site. The area was insecure and protection for the recovery team was provided by two battalions from the US Army’s 1st Infantry Division. The recovery of the aircraft from ten feet of water was conducted in extremely hazardous conditions. Kember was instrumental in the recovery of two bodies from the wreckage and in rendering safe all of the ordnance and weapons still in the helicopter. Strops were later rigged to the fuselage which enabled a Chinook helicopter to airlift the wreckage to Phu Loi.

Kember was later decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal for his involvement in this and other hazardous operations in Vietnam.