Jim enlisted in the Australian Regular Army on 30 December 1953. He was commissioned as an army pilot on 18 May 1962, and subsequently qualified as a helicopter instructor. He joined 161st (Independent) Reconnaissance Flight in Vietnam on 8 September 1966 and commanded the Flight’s helicopters.
On 21 February 1967, during Operation RENMARK an armoured personnel carrier was blown up in a minefield. The crew and the passengers became causalities. Troops dismounted from the following armoured personnel carrier and moved forward to assist the wounded. They were also wounded by a Viet Cong claymore mine which had been sited and timed to destroy the rescue party. After the second mine explosion there were thirty-two members trapped in the minefield.
At great personal risk, Captain Campbell flew a medical officer to the scene of the mine explosions, and landed in the minefield knowing full well that he and his helicopter could be destroyed by a mine explosion triggered by the helicopters skids or the down blast of the rotors.
With complete disregard for his own safety, Captain Campbell landed time after time in the minefield in order to evacuate the wounded to another landing point from which it was considered safe for large Royal Australian Air Force helicopters to operate and thus remove the wounded to hospital.
Jim was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery and his Sioux helicopter is on display in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Text from the original recommendation for “Honours & Awards” dated 31 May 1967.