In 1969, Keith Payne was leading a company of indigenous Montagnard soldiers when they were overrun by a large force of North Vietnam regulars. When the company was withdrawn many wounded were left behind and Payne returned to the battlefield four times to rescue forty stragglers. For this act of extreme bravery he was awarded the Victoria Cross. But becoming the last Australian solider to win this highest military decoration came at a price; returning to civilian life, he struggled for ten years in a haze of alcohol and prescription drugs. He was eventually diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress, and for the past twenty years he has been a strong advocate for the rights of returned soldiers and their families. In 2007, he sold all of his twenty medals, including the Victoria Cross, for an undisclosed sum. This is not only the story of a brave and resilient Australian soldier, but also a reflection on the high cost and futility of war.
Mike Colman has written over a dozen books, including one for ABC Books, Eddie Gilbert, which won the Australian Cricket Society's award for the best cricket book of 2003.