First Royal Australian Regiment soldier to receive a Victoria Cross
Daniel Keighran is the recipient of the first and only Victoria Cross awarded to a soldier from the Royal Australian Regiment in its proud 66-year history.
Daniel, from a small town in regional Queensland, enlisted in the Army at the age of 17, immediately after completing high school. By his 18th birthday he had completed recruit and infantry training to be posted as a rifleman to 6RAR based at Enoggera in Brisbane.
Upon graduating from the School of Infantry he was posted to Delta Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR) - engraved in Australia's military history for its involvement in Vietnam in the infamous Battle of Long Tan and, more recently, in Afghanistan with its contribution to the Battle of Derapet, a fierce and deadly firefight that saw Daniel earn his Victoria Cross for Australia.
Daniel deployed to Rifle Company Butterworth, Malaysia in 2001, on Operational Citadel in East Timor in 2003-04 and again to Rifle Company Butterworth in 2004. In 2005 Dan, now a Lance Corporal, served within Mortar Platoon, Support Company, 6RAR. In 2006 he deployed on Operation Catalyst in Iraq as a Bushmaster armoured-vehicle driver, a role he again fulfilled on Operation Slipper in 2007 when he deployed to Afghanistan with the Special Operations Task Group. In 2009 he was promoted to Corporal and posted back to Delta Company, 6RAR.
In February 2010 Dan returned to Operation Slipper to Afghanistan, this time with his original Company Delta. On 24 August 2010 his patrol was under fire by a numerically superior insurgent force. After receiving a friendly casualty, and with complete disregard for his own safety, Dan Keighran acted on his own initiative to take decisive action to turn the tide of battle. This decision would see him repeatedly risk his life by drawing enemy fire to himself and away from the rest of the members of his patrol who were treating the casualty.
Dan's actions ultimately enabled the identification and suppression of enemy firing positions by both Australian and Afghan fire support elements and were instrumental in permitting the withdrawal of the combined Australian and Afghan patrol with no further casualties. For his actions, he was invested with the Victoria Cross for Australia by Her Excellency the Governor-General of Australia on 1 November 2012. The citation for the Victoria Cross reads, 'For the most conspicuous acts of gallantry and extreme devotion to duty in action in circumstances of great peril'.
In 2011 Dan discharged from full-time Army service and commenced a new career in the mining industry, initially working in exploration drilling throughout Western Australia before finding a place back in the action in a gold mine outside Kalgoorlie as an underground shotfirer (blasting). He has stayed true to his Defence roots and continues to serve in the Army Reserves.
Dan has made the transition from an unpredictable high-risk environment in Afghanistan to a controlled and calculated high-risk environment within the mining industry. He has been able to draw on his experience from combat deployments and combine this with the safety culture that high-risk workplaces adopt to become a valuable member of his team.
Dan has delivered presentations to Defence Force training organisations, members of Parliament, and national level conferences. He also donates his time to a number of community activities and is the Ambassador for the Australian Defence Force Assistance Trust.
In November 2014, Dan appeared on Channel 7's Sunday Night and also featured in The Memorial: Beyond the Anzac Legend, the History Channel's documentary series on the Australian War Memorial on Foxtel.
Dan's speaking style makes him particularly suitable for a wide variety of Corporate, Association and non for profit audiences around Australia, which have included The West Australian's 'Leadership Matters' series, Australian International Research Institute, National Employer Support Awards, RSL and Rotary clubs, Lifecare, and many others.
Daniel Keighran shares his experiences of vital leadership and teamwork in critical circumstances, and the importance of effective decision-making in pressured environments.
Daniel Keighran talks about:
- Decision making
- OH&S and the safety culture in high-risk workplaces
Daniel's presentation was an inspiration to the 400 people in the audience. His ability to convey his story in vivid detail enabled the audience to immerse themselves into his words and had them fully engaged. Throughout his talk, Daniel's style enabled him to speak to a large group, but ensured each individual felt like Daniel was speaking to them directly. His thought provoking, life valuing and self-deprecating style conveyed the seriousness of his story in an entertaining manner whilst ensuring that relevant lessons were clearly articulated. At the conclusion of Daniel's talk, the audience was fortunate to be able to spend some time engaging with him personally. This opportunity was especially valuable as each of us was able to see firsthand Daniel's down to earth and genuine nature. It would be remiss for any business or organisation not to engage Daniel to enable him to tell his story and inspire the audience to power through adversity and achieve greatness
Fadden Annual Dinner
Daniel was amazing, my membership hung onto every word he said and he really was the perfect fit to our program
Australian and New Zealand Funeral Directors
Daniel Keighran is an outstanding and inspirational speaker. His keynote address to CEO’s and Executive’s from across the Sydney Business Community delivered a compelling and insightful journey covering his early childhood growing up in rural Queensland to the battle in Afghanistan where he was awarded the VC. His story is one of inspiration and bravery displaying gallantry above and beyond the call of duty. You could have heard a pin drop in the room during his entire keynote address. Every guest left the room acknowledging how privileged they felt being a part of this special keynote address
NSW Business Chamber
Easily the keynote speaker of choice. Daniel's passion and commitment to what he was doing were fantastic. He was able to convey the importance of teamwork, perseverance, being adaptive to change and being a leader when required. The experiences Daniel shared were truly amazing
Defence Finance Congress
The audience hung on Dan's every word and his time on the stage concluded with a spontaneous standing ovation.