Vale Colin Michael Kelson

By Councillor Tricia Hitchen

I have had the privilege of knowing Colin Kelson, or Pussa to his friends for a very long time.  The word hero is used a lot these days, but it’s people like Col who truly deserve that title.

Col joined the Navy in 1964. During his service at sea he served on the HMAS VAMPIRE and VENDETTA, doing troop convoy escort duty to Vietnam and performing diving operations in Vung Tau harbour against saboteurs.

On the VAMPIRE and VENDETTA and on another two tours on the HMAS STALWART he was deployed to the Far East Strategic Reserve, a warlike theatre of operations.

In 1970 Col was awarded the Fleet Commander’s Commendation for Bravery in respect of his actions as part of the ship’s diving team attempting to salvage a ditched helicopter in rough seas off Jervis Bay on the 13 November 1969.

Col was also deployed to Darwin on the TORRENS during the Indonesian/ Timor crisis.

Col completed his engagement and was discharged holding the rank of Chief Petty Officer in 1976.

He was awarded the Australian Active Service Medal with clasp, Australian Logistic Support Medal, Australian Service Medal and
clasp,  and the Australian Defence Medal.

Upon his return to Sydney, after serving his country, Col then decided to serve his community and joined the NSW Police Force in 1976.  He became an accredited Police Rescue Operator. For the next 15 years Col performed many dangerous and hazardous rescue operations in the western Sydney Region.

In 1987 he was awarded the Commissioners Commendation for Bravery for outstanding devotion to Duty and meritorious actions involved in the rescue of four persons at Plumpton and two persons at Mount Druitt.

In 1991 he was awarded the Commissioners Commendation for Valour ( the highest award for Bravery in the NSW Police Force) for the attempted rescue of a man trapped in a submerged vehicle amid floodwaters in Toongabbie creek.  He was also awarded the Toyota Australia Award which recognises meritorious acts of bravery by a member of the Police Rescue Squad, Water Police or Air Wing for his extreme bravery in the rescue event.

In 1994 while still serving as a Police Officer, Col joined the Blacktown State Emergency Service, sharing his skills and knowledge with a whole new cohort.  He operated as a supervisor and instructor and was involved in many operations of note, including the Eastern Suburbs storms, Blacktown/ Mt Druitt storms and the Central Coast emergency in 2007.

Col was awarded the 2nd and 3rd clasp to the National medal Commissioners Unit citation for service and the SES Long Service Medal.

Col was fearless in the execution of his duties. I remember spending a long cold rainy night with Col,  at the flooded intersection of the  Kingsway in St Marys, jumping off the back of a flat deck truck searching for two children who had been washed away.  Col refused to give up, kept diving into the water, searching , even though we knew it was too late.

For almost 60 years, Colin Kelson served his country and his community.  He committed acts of outstanding bravery, risking his life many times to save others, he was a leader, a mentor and a great friend and he was a hero.

On behalf of our City I extend our condolences to his wife Ann, son Robert and his wife Avril and their son Maxwell, to Colin’s daughter Christine, son in law Glen and grand daughter Leah and to the youngest daughter Catherine.  

Rest Easy Pussa, your work here is done.  Rest in Peace.