Compassionate Service

Naval Uniform, 1972

This formal winter uniform was worn by Captain John Ingram, who served in the Royal Australian Navy. Captain Ingram saw operational service in Malayan waters and in South Vietnam. In 1975, when Saigon fell, he was serving on exchange with the U.S. military, and motivated by a sense of guilt that he had been part of Australia’s contribution to the war, he volunteered to assist in preparing a US Army facility to receive and temporarily house some of the 25,000 Vietnamese refugees accepted by the US government for settlement.

While later serving in Canberra, he volunteered to become the inaugural honorary secretary of the Indo-China Refugee Association (ACT) during which time the Association renovated 130 dilapidated public housing properties for short-term refugee accommodation.

In 1981, Commander Ingram played a management role in the safe recovery of 99 men, women, and children, later known as MG 99, adrift in a tiny fishing boat in the middle of the South China Sea. After his retirement, John Ingram continued his lifelong interest in refugee matters, being a vehement opponent of offshore detention of those seeking asylum.


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