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VETERANS

Veteran Stories

Echoes of Conflict by Lachlan Wilson


Read an overview of the Vietnam War from the AWM, here and more detail from the DVA here.

The NVVM is exploring an oral history project  to record Veteran stories.  In the meantime, the Department of Planning and Community Development website features Vietnam Veterans Digital stories from John Vincent, George Logan, Maurice Benson, Kevin Brady, Paul Penno, David Catterall, Jeff Jackson, Dave Piggot, Vincent Neale, Tony Stewart, Terry Hampstead, Robert Edgell, Robert Creek, Rob Flisher, Rex Baggy Radcliffe, Peter Robertson, Peter Gibson, Peter Bright, Paul Rayment, Paul Donnelly, Michael North, Les Myers, Les Maher, Kevyn Williams, George Priestly, Edward Dunstan, Ken Cumming, Keith Wilkinson, John Wertheimer, John Miles, Jeff Freeman, Hung Tran, Helen Raw, Greg Bland, Graeme Kirk, Geoff Murray, David Lewien, David Gibson, Ambrose Crowe, Allan Stewart, Allan Henderson, Alan Alcock, Adrain wain, Pat Vines, John Deighton, Jack Balsillie, Jim Dickson, Graham Atkinson, Grant Coultman-Smith and Cliff Richards. Read them here…

 

The Pilatus Porter and Australian Army Aviation

Commencing as ‘The Army Flying Corps’ in 1913 Australian Army Aviation re-emerged during the Korean war of 1949-53. The Army Flying Corps became the Royal Australian Air Force (R.A.A.F.) in 1921. During the Korean War several Army officers trained as pilots and flew Auster mk. 3 aircraft. Captain Paul Luscombe became the first army pilot killed in action (KIA) since 1918. As the years progressed the Army formed a small flying unit with army pilots and R.A.A.F. support personnel. Read More...

 

An Interview with Jan McCarthy

Colonel Jan McCarthy is a former Director of Army Nursing and current President of the Returned Nurses Sub-Branch of the RSL.  She served in 1st Australian Field Hospital (later renamed 1 Field Hospital) in Vung Tau during 1968-1969.

 

When were you in the war… By Kerry 'Doc' Pardue


A couple of years ago someone asked me if I still thought about Vietnam. I nearly laughed in their face. How do you stop thinking about it? Every day for the last thirty-eight years, I wake up with it, and go to bed with it. But this is what I said. "Yea, I think about it. I can't quit thinking about it. I never will. But, I've also learned to live with it. Read More...

 

Soldier Boy By Mrs Pauline Priestly


Barry woke up and lay in his tent, listening to the rain swishing down the sides and hoping the trench he and his mates had dug around it would carry the water away. The ubiquitous helicopters flew around and around, their searchlights raking the area and probing through the jungle that surrounded their camp. Read More...

 

Staring into blackness, wishing for the dawn..  By John Dusting


Staring into blackness, wishing for the dawn.
The nothingness and boredom, the feelings of scorn.
The sadness, the loneliness
of a boy too far from home,
on a lonely mid-night picket, in a place that's so forlorn. Read More...

 

The bush hat By Phil White
Its

tattered, torn, scared and sometimes burnt. It’s always stained with juices from the last few meals, along with grease ,oil, dirt and sweat. It’s supposed to be green but this varies depending on age, use and imagination of the owner. Read More...

 

The Rex to Dang Dung by John Strange (aka strangles) Entertainer

I was a 20 year old when I first went to Vietnam in 1965 and was pretty much a stereo type of young bloke at that age.Wide eyed at the wonders of the world and full of adventure and bravado. Read More...

 

The soldier and the Singer By Pam Slattery


Speeding along in an open jeep on a dark, deserted road in war-tom South Vietnam was not the normal thing for a 21 year old Australian civilian girl to be doing. Read More...

 

Vietnam By Mrs Norma Sim


I watched you march in line today, part of the Anzac Day parade,
You fought the foe in Vietnam, and in sickness you've been paid,
As I watched you pass on the long march, I began to think,
That you are keeping up, faltering, without a walking stick. Read More...

 

There was something missing here By Audrey Hay


Thinking back on the Vietnam War, reading about it in the papers, watching T.V. and
knowing that our soldiers were experiencing all the horrors of war, like any other war,
I could not understand how and why they were treated so badly on their return. Read More...

 

Tour of duty By Leigh Hay


Rubber plantations touch my soul. Maybe it's their symmetry. Maybe it's the canopy of luxuriant foliage over spindly, Y-shaped trunks, or the promise of shade from an unrelenting tropical sun. At first light, a rubber plantation is serene. A leafy oasis; soft to the step, humming with insects. A place of peace, tranquility and a sense of sacred. Read More...

 

Reflections on the Vietnam War By Mr Desmond Taylor


I am a veteran of the Vietnam conflict having served for a period of 13 months with a Signal Unit based in Vung Tau. My tour of duty began early in 1967 and ended when I set foot on Australian shores again in early 1968; but my wartime adventure started long before I arrived in that war tom country. It was the lead up to the departure dare and events thereafter that made me wonder if I, and others like me, scheduled for active duty overseas, were not being toyed with by the military hierarchy. Read More...

 

The Veteran as Author By Gary McKay
<

An address delivered at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance on Saturday 18 August 2007.
Distinguished guests, fellow veterans, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.  About twenty-two years ago I was asked to write my memoirs and was probably the first person from the Viet Nam generation to write a non-fiction account of his time in war. By good fortune and a brilliant editor - who turned my words into readable prose- it became a best-seller, and fame - if not fortune- was mine. But I am not here to talk about what I have written on the war, I want to talk about why writing about war is important. Read More...

 

Vietnam: What For? By Stella van Tongeren BA Dip. App. Soc. Psych


If ever our politicians and army generals need an object lesson on how NOT to treat its returning war veterans, it need look no further than the post war history of our men in Vietnam. The evil tentacles of that war are still reaching out, wreaking havoc thirty years after it ended. Read More...

 

Six six sixty six by Raymond Michael James Smith


Yes six six sixty is important to me the sixth of the sixth nineteen sixty six was my twenty first birthday also the day I landed on the beach at Vung Tau in Vietnam. No twenty first birthday bash just bloody sand in my boots for the rest of the day. My first memory of the inland was the town of Baria nice but worrying where do I move the A.P.C. (Armoured Personnel Carrier) to if we are attacked I have vivid memories of narrow streets. Read More...

 

Impressions Of The Vietnam Conflict Bv Mr Arthur Haskell


As a person who served in a small way during World War Two, I did not at first feel fully qualified to comment on the war in Vietnam. After a while however I reconsidered the invitation of SWAC (noting the word "encourage") to contribute to the "Reflections on the Vietnam War", eventually deciding to add to the many viewpoints put forward on this most controversial campaign. Read More...

 

Agent Orange By Douglas Ingley


The Vietnam War was a savage encounter with the USA losing more than 300,000 men. It was fought in an attempt to prevent communism getting a foothold in this Asian area. It failed of course. If the French had allowed free elections to take place. Vietnam would not have divided into North and South in conflict with each other and, a National Government could have been elected. Read More...

 

Brian's Bloody Hat by John Strange (aka strangles) Entertainer

The last time I toured Vietnam in 1969, I was working for a Pommie bloke named Brian Nolan, (and his wife EVE). Brian purchased a beaut hat through Sears & Roebuck on mail order that was a big, white, Stetson. It looked like something that Tom Mix would wear. Read More...

 

Bunker Blues Copyright Bob Ebdon 1970


Sitting in my pit in the night

don’t care what’s wrong or right

just want to be out of sight………

Being free with my individuality.Read More...

 

 

Vietnam War - Conscription By Shelagh Robinson


Stir the fires -roll the drums,
Are duty's dues to die? 
Shame on shame!
In Honour's name? Read More...

 

Don’t shoot – I’m laughing - Vung Tau Air Base 1969 By Geoffrey F Way


We were all set. The Loadmaster on Wallaby zero, zero, six had accidentally mixed up the routine film canister deliveries so that some Yank outfit up near the DMZ were watching a two week old Rugby League game whilst we had in our possession a new release Hollywood movie. Day shift had visited a local fishing village to purchase a truck load of green prawns (cooking them ourselves was safer) and we had crammed an extra pallet of beer into the cool room. All of our aircraft were home safe and serviceable; no night shift tonight, the long planned function was on! Read More...

 

From Long Tan to Bribie By Leigh Vibert


Dad spent eight and, a half months on active duty in Vietnam from June 1966 to 18th February 1967. Being a naive country boy who had become an orphan, Dad discovered life is not always easy, especially in Vietnam. He explains it in this way "God had placed me in good company. My Platoon Sergeant, Frank Alcorta was not only a brilliant soldier, but a fearless leader on the battlefield." As a soldier he relied on the comradeship of the men he fought with, but Sergeant Frank Alcorta held his utmost esteem and respect. Read More...

 

I still shake my head in disbelief - Reflections on the Vietnam War By Barry Heard


Academics have long proved the Vietnam War was a mistake. Perhaps the strongest of all comments comes from Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defence under President Lyndon Johnson: “Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why.” Read More...

 

Reflections of the Vietnam War, Jacko’s lost property - Jim Stow 27.6.06


Graeme Jackman was a particularly close & good friend of mine, and a very proud Vietnam Veteran, unfortunately we lost Jacko to a heart attack, in September 2005,"at Narrabri (NSW) on our way back to Bendigo from a fishing trip up at Townsville, Far North Queensland. He was only 57years old. Jacko had told me the following story, a number of times and we always had a good laugh from it, although it may not have been funny at that particular time! I sincerely hope I can do Jacko justice in the retelling of this part of his time in Vietnam. Read More...

 
 

Keeping Quiet October 1987 By John Harris


The Fifth Battalion Royal Australian Regiment arrived home after completing twelve month's tour of Vietnam in May 1967. One of the best feelings of my life was lining the deck of H.M.A.S. Sydney as she sailed into Sydney Harbour that day. We disembarked, marched through the city, said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Read More...

 
 

Missing in action By Jeanette Greve

Bombs, guns and napalm,

Choppers over their heads.

A nightmare in Vietnam

And many just disappeared Read More...