Vietnam veteran Ian Haycock, better known as The Sergeant Major, has spent the last 20 years helping rural communities.

Story By Mandy McKeesick

It is the week of the Birdsville Races and outside the Birdsville Hotel The Sergeant Major is in full swing before the assembled crowd. With free-flowing banter and a friendly mix of cajoling and teasing, he soon has volunteers for the novelty events. “Isn’t this fun?” he says with his trademark mischievous grin. “We’re all here having a good time and we’re raising money for the school and the clinic. What a great community. This is the way life should be.”
The comment is typical from a man who has dedicated the past 20 years to remote localities and outback communities.
“I just love this Australian way of life,” he says.
Ian Haycock, OAM, more commonly known as The Sergeant Major, was born at Coonamble, northern New South Wales, in 1950 and, seeing no future on the land as a labourer, joined the army at age 16. He was assigned to the Royal Australian Signal Corps. “I was initially only going to do three years,” he reminisces, as he strokes his cultivated white handlebar moustache, “but I ended up making a career in the army, rising to the rank of regimental sergeant major. I did a tour of duty of Vietnam in 1970 and also served in Singapore. In 1990 I lost my leg in an accident and served the last three years as an amputee.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #93

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2014