FORMER Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) warrant officer Matt Brown is gearing up to join fellow veteran Laurie ‘Truck’ Sams for part of his epic 10,000km bike ride from Hanoi, Vietnam to Sydney.
Mr Brown, of Bateman, will ride alongside Mr Sams from July 27 to August 12, covering close to 1400km from the Thai border town of Surat Thani to Singapore.
A world champion parachutist who served with the SAS in Vietnam in the 1970s, Mr Sams was awarded Australia’s Star of Courage in 2001 for saving his tandem parachute student in a 1995 accident.
The accident cost Mr Sams his leg but, after learning to walk with a prosthetic, he has since completed a number of hikes and bike rides for charity all over Asia.
His latest venture, dubbed The Long Ride Home, is his most ambitious to date and seeks to raise money for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A veteran of East Timor and Afghanistan, Mr Brown is now director of operations for private security firm Lockforce, one of the sponsors for Mr Sam’s ride.
“Because we’re sponsoring the ride, we suggested to Truck that we could support him,” Mr Brown said. “He pretty much did the first month by himself and then a couple other former SAS guys picked him up in Ho Chi Minh City and they’ve been riding with him to Bangkok and then to Surat Thani, where I take over.”
“As time goes on, his prosthetic leg becomes a little bit sorer and fatigue starts to set in, so it’s good for him to have some company for a bit of a morale boost.”
Mr Sams, who suffers from PSTD, began his journey alone in Vietnam and visited a number of the sites where he served during the war, speaking with both Australian and Vietnamese 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,” Mr Sams said.
“I lost mates in Vietnam and many others are still suffering terribly, so I’m using the ride to raise money for their treatment and really shine a spotlight on their problems.”
Readers can follow Mr Sams’ progress or donate to the cause at www.thelong ridehome.com.au.