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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Aboriginal tracker awarded Valour Medal

Yesterday in a remote community of Yuendumu, Teddy Jangala Egan's family was posthumously awarded the Northern Territory Police Force's highest bravery award, the Valour Medal.

Tedddy Egan is the first indigenous recipient of the medal that rewards extraordinary bravery in perilous circumstances and has been conferred on only 13 police officers since 1998.  

About Teddy Egan

Tracker Teddy Egan Jangala skills have been used by Police in Central Australia on a number of occasions to track offenders. 

Teddy is famed for the legendary capture of Billy Benn in 1967. On 5 August, Benn ran into the bush after shooting a man at Harts Range. The next day, Sergeant Len Cossins of Alice Springs and Lake Nash Constable Blake Jobberns were wounded after being shot by Benn while searching a nearby range. 

On the grounds of insanity, Billy Benn was eventually acquitted of the murder charges and went on to become a famous Aboriginal artist, one of our finest.

Although many of his family were trackers, Teddys mother taught him the skills. He said tracking a human being was easier than tracking kangaroos, dingoes or snakes. “People make too much mess and end up sitting in the shade.”  

The chase marked a milestone for Teddy - his first ride in a helicopter. “The wind was blowing too much,” laughed Teddy who was equipped with a feed of Kentucky Fried Chicken and water. “Once we left the ground it was alright.” Teddy’s account of the ride conflicts with one eye witness though. “He was holding onto anything he could, even his toes were curled,” said Acting Superintendent Rob Farmer. 

After being released from prison, in a strange twist of fate, Egan and Benn became good friends.  Teddy Egan died in 2011 and his friend died a year later.