Vietnam to Australia
A former Special Air Service Regiment soldier who lost a leg saving a fellow parachutist has left on a 10,000km bike ride from Hanoi to Sydney to raise money for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other injuries.
Laurie ‘Truck’ Sams, 67, who served with the SAS in Vietnam before losing his left leg in a parachute accident, will take six months to complete the epic ride through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and across Australia.
Mr Sams will leave the Australian Embassy in Hanoi carrying an Australian flag he plans to present to the Australian War Memorial at 11am on Friday, November 11 to mark Remembrance Day 2016 before cycling on to Sydney and a welcome on the steps of Sydney Opera House on Sunday, November 20.
A world champion parachutist, Mr Sams was awarded the Star of Courage for the parachute incident in 1995. After learning to walk with a prosthetic leg he led two trekking expeditions along the 315km Thai section of the notorious Thai Burma Railway and has completed a series of charity bike rides around Asia.
He said he set his sights on “the big ride” to Australia as a friendship initiative between Australia and Asia and to support injured veterans.
“I’m blown away at the number of vets suffering from PTSD and other injuries, not just from Vietnam but all the conflicts we have been involved in before and since,” he said.
“My dad Bill was a prisoner on the Thai-Burma Railway in World War 2 and I lost mates in Vietnam. Many other mates are still suffering terribly, and I want to use the ride to raise money for their treatment and really shine a spotlight on their problems.”
The ride will pass through the paddy fields and dense jungle of Vietnam to Ho Chi Minh City before striking west through Cambodia and Thailand and skirting the Gulf of Thailand south to Malaysia and Singapore, where the team will catch a flight to Perth for the arduous trans-Nullarbor to Adelaide then on to Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.
“We’re hoping to really interact with locals along the route, especially in smaller communities like Katanning, Ravensthorpe and Esperance in the West, Port Augusta, Port Pirie and Murray Bridge in South Australia, Horsham, Ballarat and Wangaratta and Wodonga in Victoria and Albury, Goulburn and Bowral n NSW, Mr Sams said.
General Sir Peter Cosgrove AK AC (Mil) CVO MC (Retd) has succeeded the late Major General Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC as Honorary Patron of The Long Road Home.
Like MAJGEN Jeffery, Sir Peter is a past Governor-General of Australia. He was
Knighted on becoming G-G in 2014 and was further honoured as a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order by Her Majesty the Queen after his
retirement in 2019.
Sir Peter is widely known for his earlier career in the Australian Defence Force –
serving in Malaysia and Vietnam before coming to greater public
prominence as Commander of INTERFET in East Timor, Chief of the
Australian Defence Force from 2002-2005 and head of the Task Force set
up to help rebuild communities in Queensland after Cyclone Larry in
On his retirement Sir Peter went on to serve on several corporate boards before becoming Governor-General.
The Long Road Home team wishes to pay our deepest respects to the memory of its founding patron, Major General Michael Jeffery AC, AO(Mil), CVO, MC (Retd).
MAJGEN Jeffery died after a short illness on December 18, 2020, four years after accepting an invitation to take up the honorary role.
Former warrant officer with the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR). Truck served in Vietnam and has 21 years’ service in the Australian Defence Force.
Star of Courage (Civilian Award), Australian Active Service medal clasp Vietnam War, The Vietnam Medal, Australian Service Medal 1942-75 for service in Papua New Guinea, Australian Service Medal 1975 Clasp SE Asia, Australian Sporting Medal (Civilian Honour and Award), Australian Services Defence Medal (for 21 years’ service), Australian Defence Medal, The Vietnamese Campaign Medal and The Infantry Combat Badge.
Skydiving and Parachuting Achievements
Laurie was team leader for the Army Parachute Team (Red Berets) and member of United States Army Parachute Demonstration & Competition Team (The Golden Knights) and inducted into their Hall of Fame and was a member of The United States Navy Parachute Team. Truck has completed 5,645 parachute jumps, was a World Championship Bronze Medallist, 11 times Australian Parachute Champion and an Australian Team member at six World Parachuting Championships including being Team Captain. Truck was a member of the International Seoul Olympic Skydiving Exhibition Team (SOSET) that jumped into the Seoul Olympic Stadium as part of the opening ceremony in 1988. Truck became an amputee losing his leg saving the life of a civilian for which he was awarded the Star of Courage.
Remembrance Expeditions and Rides
In 2005 under the patronage of the then Governor General of Australia His Excellency Major General The Honourable Mike Jeffery AC, AO (mil), CVO, MC (retd). Laurie led another successful expedition along the Thai Burma Death Railway taking two former SAS soldiers.
In 2002 under the patronage of the then Defence Minister, later Prime Minister of Malaysia Dr Mohamad Mahatir Laurie led an expedition of three Trekkers to:
1. retrace his father’s* footsteps from along the full length of the death railway (315 Kms) Thailand side.
2. pay homage to all POWs and Asian labourers who died building the death railway.
3. honour those POWs still living.
4. find missing Malaysian ( for the Malaysian government ) who were never repatriated home after the war.
5. report on the journey via local media, world press and television news on the expedition.
*Laurie’s father Private William Sams (deceased) served with the Australian Infantry (2/26 Battalion) in Malaya and became a prisoner of war (POW) after being captured shortly after the fall of Singapore. He later was sent to work on the infamous Thai Burma Death Railway.
By 2014 Laurie had ridden 12,000 kms of Vietnam visiting major battle sites of the American and Australians; Long Tan, Khe Sanh, Ashau Valley, Hamburger Hill, full length of the central Highland along the Ho Chi Minh trail, Son Tay, the complete area of the Mekong Delta, and Da Nang through to the highlands along the Ho Chi Minh trail crossing the 17 parallel (during the war) to the French and Viet Minh battlefield of Dien Bien Phu (4 times) which was the deciding battle that ended 100 years of French rule. He has already completed cycling (as an amputee) from the North (Chiang Mai) to the South (Phuket) 2,400 Kms in 23 days to raise money for operation smile and the blind society of Thailand.