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Army March 29, 2012
RIG Neil Weekes (retd)
describes himself as having
lived by the creed “Lead, fol-
low or get out of my way”.
He was teaching at Clermont State
School before a call for national service
at the beginning of 1967 changed his life.
Brig Weekes served as a platoon com-
mander with 1RAR in South Vietnam dur-
ing 1968 and was awarded the Military
Cross for distinguished service in action
during the Battle of Coral-Balmoral.
After reaching the rank of colonel in
the regular Army, he transferred to the
reserves and commanded 11 Bde before
retiring from the military in 1998.
Brig Weekes is currently patron of
the Townsville branches of the Vietnam
Veterans’ Association of Australia, the
National Servicemen’s Association of
Australia and the RSL.
He is chair of the North Australian
Military Heritage Association and has pre-
sented a live commentary on every Anzac
Day parade in Townsville since 1997.
He said soldiers had to be completely
honest and loyal, flexible and prepared to
accept the opinions of others.
“If your boss makes a decision you
disagree with and then you criticise that
decision in front of your subordinates,
then you have compromised your credibil-
ity,” Brig Weekes said.
“If your subordinates then criticise
your boss or any other superior officer,
you really are in no position to reprimand
When asked who was the biggest influ-
ence during his career, Brig Weekes said
his first platoon sergeant, Chris Webster,
taught him more than any officer training
unit ever did.
“I was fortunate to have him as my
platoon sergeant for eight months before I
went to South Vietnam and for six months
while on operations,” Brig Weekes said.
“Chris taught me to respect soldiers,
but he also taught me to lead them.”
Brig Weekes said good soldiers were
physically and mentally tough and knew
their weapons or specialist skills like the
back of their hands.
“They must believe in what they and
the Army are trying to achieve – they must
be loyal to their fellow soldiers and their
superiors but not afraid to offer their opin-
ions and advice,” he said.
Brig Weekes said today’s soldiers were
well-educated, aware of world events and
prepared to offer their views.
“They are far more technically quali-
fied than their predecessors – they are con-
fident and competent with their weapons
and other skills,” he said.
“They are also aware of their commu-
Brig Weekes learnt a lot in his early
years in the Army and the lessons stayed
with him throughout his career.
He recalls an incident just before his
platoon deployed to Vietnam.
The platoon had a party and, being a
non-drinker, he kept a close eye on his
He tasked two soldiers to return the
keg, which had a lot of beer left in it, to
the hotel in the morning.
“On parade next morning, the platoon
sergeant reported, with a slight glint in his
eye, that the two soldiers were absent from
parade,” Brig Weekes said.
“When the still very intoxicated dig-
gers rolled up at 2.30pm I knew that they
would have to be charged.
“They were marched into my office
and informed me, in very blurred speech,
that as I had not specified a time they had
to be back at barracks and as there was
still some beer in the keg, they thought
that it would be a waste of money to return
the beer – so they decided to consume it.
“I learnt some very valuable lessons
from this incident.”
Leadership is about respect
He was conscripted in the ’60s and led a platoon
in Vietnam, now he’s a prominent figure in
Townsville military circles. Brig Neil Weekes spends
a soldiers five with Cpl Mark Doran.
Prominent: Brig Neil Weekes heads the Townsville branches of several military associations and has
presented live commentary for the Townsville Anzac Day parade for more than a decade.
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