Like most other Australian Vietnam Veterans, it took me many years to feel comfortable in talking about my experience in Vietnam until the 1987 ‘Welcome Home Weekend’ in Sydney. For 17 years I, like most other veterans, kept a low profile – not knowing how people in the community would act towards me. I was conscripted into the army at the age of 20 and was posted to a transport unit in Vietnam a few weeks before my 21st birthday in 1969. I returned home much more mature and experienced in April 1970.
Since then, I have become increasingly proud of my time as a National Serviceman, or ‘Nasho’, in the Australian Army.
This week, we visited the relatively new National Vietnam Veterans Museum on Phillip Island. This is a large and very professional display of Australia’s involvement in the war, and is well worth visiting. I spent the afternoon feeling many emotions from excitement at seeing some of the equipment I had used during the war to sorrow for the way that the war affected many who were involved. Looking back on it, we were all so young!
The museum is in a large hanger by the airport at Philip Island
The comprehensive display inside the museum.
I even found that I could still climb up into one of the old trucks that I used to drive, although it was much tougher getting down again!