Thursday, April 25, 2013

God help me, he was only nineteen

Image from here 

He was a teenager. Rough, a ladies man, and fiercely loyal. He went to school with my dad and to this day  is still his best mate.

His mum decided it would be a good idea to enlist Mr C in the army. Try to straighten him out. The year was 1965.

This was also the year that Australia began sending combat troops to Vietnam. He was one of the youngest to be sent, he was 19 years old.

Australia's peak commitment in the Vietnam war was 7,672 combat troops. All in all, over 60,000 Australians were involved in this war. 521 were killed and more than 3,000 were injured. Most Australians and New Zealanders served in the 1st Australian Task Force in the Phước Tuy province.

Mr C returned from Vietnam a changed man. Did it straighten him out? Hardly. He has fought demons ever since. He is not alone in this battle. There are reasons there are facilities to assist returned soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder. Reasons that the rest of us could never comprehend.

For many years he didn't talk about his experience. It was always there though; haunting him at night, whenever he heard loud noises or a chopper overhead.

As old age caught up with him so did the emotional battle scars that were left by his involvement in the Vietnam war. It seemed he had no choice but to let it out, otherwise it would consume him as it had done so many of his mates.

He is now a member of the Vietnam Vets Motorcycle club, where he shares an unspoken past with the other members. They ride together in memory of fallen comrades and to help those still alive to seek peace.

He is also heavily involved in counselling returned soldiers and their families.  Because war doesn't just affect those involved, it affects generation after generation. Sons and daughters who have seen their fathers tormented by the mental images that continually play over and over in their war tortured brains.

Hopefully one day there will be no more war. There will be no more men or women like Mr C who have to see the most atrocious of things and live with it in their hearts and souls forever. No more families that have to say goodbye to their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, mums, dads because they are fighting someone else's fight.

I hope that one day Mr C will find some peace, along with everyone else touched by war.

Lest we forget.....


  1. War is so much more than a battle on the ground. The battle is never over for some. x

  2. Beautiful post for Anzac Day. I hope Mr C finds peace too, and all of his comrades, and their children.

  3. Hope Mr C finds peace and comes to terms with things. Even though I can never imagine or begin to comprehend what he went through, I am sure the experience would have been something difficult to deal with and that he had struggle many at times to come to terms with. I would like to wish Mr C well and glad to hear that he is doing work and helping with counselling fellow comrades

    1. I believe it helps him to be talking about it and helping others. War is such an atrocity.