Citation for Frank
A FIFTH miner has emerged as a hero from the Nymboida mine explosion of 1976.
Wooli retiree Frank Smidt was at ground zero on January 12, 1976 when a mine gas and dust explosion rocked the Basin Creek Mine.
But 36 years later he almost missed out on the recognition he deserved for his actions that day, because of a misspelt name on an envelope he received from the Governor-General.
"I got a letter from the Governor-General, but because it wasn't my name I didn't open it or do anything with it," Mr Smidt told The Daily Examiner yesterday.
"It wasn't until I received another letter from them with my name on it that I realised what it was."
Mr Smidt filled out the enclosed acceptance form and duly received his invitation to go to Sydney.
"I told them it didn't suit me to go down to Sydney to receive the award, so they sent my copy of the group citation in the mail," he said.
Mr Smidt might have remained in the background, but for the persistence of his daughter, Jayne Willett.
"I was content to let sleeping dogs lie," Mr Smidt said. "But my daughter, Jayne, kept pushing me when she saw the story in the paper about the four boys."
Mr Smidt worked at the mine from 1952 until its closure in 1979, which included the final four years when the workers took over and ran the mine.
"We used to supply coal for the power station at Koolkhan until it shut down in 1979," he said.
"Then I moved down south to work at Ellalong (near Cessnock in the Hunter Valley).
"Those mines down there made me realise how small the (coal) seam we were working at Nymboida really was."