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Man defends Vietnam War record amid claims he's an impostor

INVESTIGATED: Goodna’s Neville Irwin is accused of making fraudulent claims about his Vietnam War service.
INVESTIGATED: Goodna’s Neville Irwin is accused of making fraudulent claims about his Vietnam War service. Rob Williams
The front page of the QT on February 7, 2014.
The front page of the QT on February 7, 2014.

GOODNA'S Neville Irwin has defended his Vietnam War record after being accused of being a fraud by an organisation devoted to exposing impostors.

Mr Irwin featured on the front page of the QT recently over his battle with the Department of Housing to have the right to fly the Australian flag in front of his housing commission home.

In the story he referred to his service in the Vietnam War and said he also served in Laos and Cambodia.

But Australia and New Zealand Military Impostors' (ANZMI) senior investigator Bill Hobson has launched a probe into Mr Irwin's service record and said he did not serve in Vietnam. The organisation has filed a full report on Mr Irwin on its website.

The report states that Mr Irwin "enlisted into the CMF Unit, 41 Royal New South Wales Regiment in August 1968 and was discharged in February 1970.

"He again enlisted in September 1970 with the same unit. As soon as he had completed his National Service obligation in October 1973 he was again discharged."

Mr Hobson told the QT that Mr Irwin's service was confined solely to his Citizen Military Forces activities.

"I can say unequivocally that Irwin served only as a part-time soldier in the CMF and was never deployed overseas," Mr Hobson said.

"Our report is accurate. Irwin has committed an offence against the Defence Act 1903 by falsely claiming to be a returned veteran and we have referred the matter to the state police."

ANZMI's website says the organisation "consists of ex-military personnel from both Australia and New Zealand, who are dedicated to detecting, exposing and bringing to justice those stealing the honour of genuine veterans and ex servicemen and women".

The QT put ANZMI's findings to Mr Irwin but he reiterated what he had told us previously, namely that he was engaged in secret work in the Vietnam War.

He also said that his official records had been changed to hide the secret nature of his mission.

"I am no fraud," Mr Irwin said.

"I wasn't even supposed to say I was in Laos and Cambodia. I was there, but I can't say I was there.

"My discharge papers read that I served until the completion of national duties, but with no active service.

"But my records have been changed and my discharge papers have been changed.

"Everything was changed.

"I know a bloke whose date of birth was changed and whose papers say he never left Australia, but he's got a 7.62 calibre bullet in his back."

The QT put Mr Irwin's version of events to Mr Hobson and his response was unequivocal.

"In response to that, I say he is a liar," Mr Hobson said.

But Mr Irwin said the ANZMI have "no idea what went on".

"They need to pull their heads in. They don't know what they are talking about," he said.

Mr Irwin showed the QT a certificate of appreciation for his Vietnam service that was signed by former Prime Minister John Howard.

He has a photo in his lounge room of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Oxley MP Bernie Ripoll presenting the certificate to him.

But Mr Hobson said the certificates were "issued in good faith on the basis people requesting the certificate were telling the truth".

The QT contacted Mr Ripoll and he said he "took everybody respectfully at face value".

He said the issue was "an internal matter for the veteran community" because they would know the facts about members' service.

"But I would be disappointed in anyone who makes a false claim, because it is disrespectful to those who have served," he said.

*A full report on Mr Irwin's service record is on the ANZMI website at anzmi.net.

Topics:  editors picks vietnam war


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