BILL BROWN MBE
SYDNEY - Ernest Vincent (Vin) Smith, who saw notable service in Papua New Guinea as a kiap before independence and a senior public servant after, has died on the Gold Coast aged 90.
In two separate stints totalling 39 years, Vin served PNG with distinction and was admired for his coolness under pressure and great good humour.
The South Australian born Vin had only recently left school when he commenced his training at the Australian School of Pacific Administration in July 1949 to become a patrol officer .
At the end of the Short Course five months later, he flew to the then Territory of Papua and New Guinea on Christmas Eve 1949 as a fully-fledged Cadet Patrol Officer.
Vin served two terms in the Milne Bay District at Losuia and Samarai followed by a couple of terms in Manus, before being posted as Assistant District Officer in Madang in June 1964.
Just three months later he was a passenger in a single-engine Dornier that crashed on take-off from Tauta airstrip.
Pilot Ray Jaensch did not survive and District Commissioner Fred Kaad suffered a severe injury to his spinal cord, rendering him a paraplegic.
The passengers in the rear of the aircraft - Vin, Dr Laurence Malcolm and Patrol Officer Tony Cooke - were severely shaken but not seriously injured.
Vin Smith concluded his first Papua New Guinea career with half a dozen years as Deputy District Commissioner in Rabaul, resigning at the end of 1977.
Six years later, footloose in Australia, he returned to PNG with the blessing of Michael Somare as a senior public servant.
He left PNG for the second and final time in 1994.
He and his late wife Rita lived at Mermaid Waters on Queensland’s Gold Coast
Vin Smith was a mighty man. He will be remembered for his friendship, his humour, his achievements and his deeds.
Rest in peace, old friend.