At an intimate cocktail party at the Phillip Island Sub-Branch, Greg Mead accepted his award.
"It was just so wonderful that others thought well enough of me to put me up for it. I was overjoyed"
Greg Mead OAM
The Vietnam Veteran, who is currently the Sub-Branch Treasurer is passionate and proud about his 50 year membership with the organisation.
State President, Dr Robert Webster, OAM presented the award.
"Greg, you are an outstanding member of your generation, an outstanding example of a Vietnam Veteran and a true living example of the RSL motto ‘Serving Still’."
Dr Robert Webster OAM
Greg joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1965 and served for six years, including a year and a day in Vietnam.
It’s no wonder Greg felt compelled to serve his country, with his grandfather, uncles, father and mother all having done the same.
“I grew up an ‘Air Force brat’ [the child of a parent or parents who served full-time], always lived on military bases around Australia and Butterworth in Malaysia.”
A year before discharging, he joined the Dandenong RSL Sub-Branch in 1970, where his father and uncles were already members.
"I am RSL through and through."
Greg Mead OAM
And when you look at his credentials, it’s easy to see why.
From the outset, Greg became involved with the Sub-Branch and assisted with the then issues and concerns experienced with the Vietnam Veteran Community.
He transferred to the Waverley Sub-Branch and served on the Committee, and as their Welfare and Pensions Officer.
And when he and his family moved to Phillip Island, Greg served on the Committee and became the longest serving President of the Sub-Branch, retiring from the position in 2020, after 11 years.
According to the citation for the award, “Greg Mead is an extremely committed and loyal member of the RSL.”
It goes on to say, “Greg has always placed the welfare of Veterans and Members as his number one priority.”
His leadership and experience is also credited with helping to build up the Phillip Island Sub-Branch, which now boasts over 5,000 members, a significant increase from when he transferred there in 2005.
He fondly remembers his humble beginnings at the RSL, when he was offered a full-time paid position at the State Branch in the early ‘90s.
Greg was so passionate and excited about the opportunity he even took a pay cut, jokingly calling it “semi-voluntary work!” With three children to think about, he now laughs as he remembers his wife having to return to work as a result.
“You were a popular member of staff and very successfully led the relocation of Anzac House in 2001 whilst we underwent a major renovation,” says Dr Robert Webster.
Greg has been instrumental in a long list of other achievements, including being a major contributor to the success of the Vietnam Veterans’ Welcome Home Parade in Sydney in 1987 – a real highlight for him.
“I worked day and night pushing it [getting the word out]. Posters and everything I was getting directly from Sydney and taking them around to all the RSL’s to put up on notice boards. I did that for about 6 months. Some nights I was getting home after midnight.”
One thing led to another, and Greg also fund raised for the construction of the National Vietnam Memorial in the Australian Capital Territory.
He was also the founding secretary of the National Vietnam Veterans’ Museum located on Phillip Island, as well as a member of the Agent Orange Trust board.
Greg has also dedicated his time to many other organisations and community initiatives.
Greg was made a Life Member of the League in 2003, inducted into the RSL Hall of Fame in 2013 and honoured with a Medal in the Order of Australia in 2015.
So, what has kept Greg motivated and inspired to keep doing and keep giving?
“Well, without a good wife of course I couldn’t have done any of this…”
Greg and his wife married a week after he returned from Vietnam.
Dr Robert Webster made special mention of the importance of family.
"It is also important to acknowledge the support given to you by Chris and your family as well – it is impossible to give so much of yourself as a volunteer without the understanding and necessary forthcoming support from home."
Dr Robert Webster OAM
“I’ve just had real pride in my family, and I suppose I wanted to make the family proud as well.”
And it certainly seems he has done just that.
To be eligible for the RSL's prestigious Meritorious Service Medal award, the nominee must already be a Life Member of the League and have given outstanding service to the RSL.