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What's in a name...who was Michael Herbert?

What's in a name...who was Michael Herbert?

What's in a name...who was Michael Herbert?

Tuesday 1 August 2023

Hundreds of cars drive across the Michael Herbert Bridge over the Patawalonga each day, on their way to and from Glenelg.

But how many people know the story of the man it was named after? Michael Patrick John Herbert.

A plaque, which is attached to a boulder on the eastern side of the Pat, shares his wartime story.

It began in 1970 but remained unfinished for 39 years. Michael attended Sacred Heart College – where there is another plaque in his memory – and was only in his 20s when he achieved his civil private pilot’s licence.

In 1964, he joined the RAAF, and was posted to No 2 Squadron as a Canberra bomber pilot.

In February 1970, he arrived in Vietnam – eight years after Australia joined the allied forces, led by the United States, to fight in the Vietnam War.

Barely nine months later, Flying Officer Michael Herbert and his navigator, Pilot Officer Robert Carver, disappeared from radio contact during a night bombing mission. They were declared missing and presumed killed.

It was not until 2009 when the wreckage of their aircraft was finally discovered – almost 39 years later.

After his repatriation, a full military funeral was held. In 2011, the new bridge that was built over the Patawalonga was named in his honour.

Not far from his family home in Glenelg North, the Michael Herbert Memorial Garden was established about eight years ago, in connection to the William Kibby VC Veterans Shed.

There is also a display in memory of Michael inside the Glenelg Air‑Raid Shelter at Glenelg East.

Shining a light on the Roll of Honour

At the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Michael Patrick John Herbert is among more than 103,000 names on the Roll of Honour list. Those names are shone onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory as part of a nightly commemorative event.

Michael’s name can be seen on:

  • Friday 22 September 2023 at 10.08pm
  • Thursday 4 January 2024 at 1.21am
  • Wednesday 10 April 2024 at 4.38am


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