Major Jack Skipper MC
Here was a man!
A man who from humble beginnnings made his mark on the world and a country that he served.
In the 50s and 60s Korea was still fresh in the minds of the world who feared the “Red Peril”.
The “domino principal” was their modus operandi with Malaya – an example of how porous our borders were.
Both are conflicts where Jack Skipper MC came to 1 Commando Company in 1959 with an impressive record.
Awarded the Military Cross in Korea, Jack Skipper demonstrated his leadership skills in both these conflicts.
Instituted in 1914, the Military Cross was issued for leadership and gallantry in presence of the enemy.
Major Skipper MC brought an aggressive training program based on experience and expanded the skill base of the Commandos to include night parachute jumps and midnight raids on the RAN mothball fleet anchored in Athol Bay, much to the annoyance of locals and inhabitants of Taronga Zoo!
By 1961, Jack had completed his tour as OC of 1 Commando Company and moved on. However, such was the connection between the man and the Unit that Jack was a regular visitor back to the barracks at Georges Heights.
As a young soldier I have clear recollections of his visits when he gave talks on the geophysical situation in South East Asia. Afterwards he could be found in the OR’s Mess, chatting with the Diggers who would listen intently to the words of a man who had been at the sharp end.
He was generous in his praise for the Australian fighting man and even the non-combatants who did so much to keep supplies to the troops at the sharp end.
Jack never spoke ill of the average enemy soldier, only the leadership who ordered unacceptable behaviour.
He did zero-in on political indecision as soldiers do, however he was known to also give credit to some elected representatives.
I lost touch with Jack Skipper as my career took me to faraway places – but I have never forgotten him.
Today, I say to his family and to you who have gathered here:
“Jack Skipper MC. Go to your rest. Your duty is done”
Lest We Forget.