Back To The Army

Over the weekend of October 21 & 22 2207, (and along with a few other Vietnam Veterans) I attended a two day celebration of my old army unit as it began to close down its operations at Moorebank NSW and prepared to move to Amberley in QLD. It was an interesting weekend and it bought back a lot of memories. I didn’t even quiver and shake being back on an army base again!

85 Transport Troop as it has been called since the Corps of Transport was created in 1976 (Previously 85 Tpt Platoon RAASC), was created in 1967 specifically to fill a transport role in Vietnam. I served in it during 1969 – 70. After Vietnam the Platoon returned to Redfern in Sydney and ended up in its ‘temporary’ home at Moorebank in 1967.

In many ways, not much has changed. The unit are still known as the ‘Road Runners’, for example. I could still detect a similar culture to the one that I had experienced – adventurous activity in the unit boozer by an active bunch of young people, a good level of respect for authority, and a strong sense of ‘esprit de corps’. The testimony to this last point was the fact that over 200 people turned up for the event. Like us, many of these people were previous members who had returned especially for the celebrations. I found out that army food is still plentiful and wholesome!

There were some noticeable changes – many of the current members are very capable young women, whilst in my day soldiering was an activity reserved only for men. Obviously, their equipment is more modern. In our day, we had a fleet of small 5 & 7 tonne vehicles used for distribution of goods and people out to where the operations were taking place. That is now mostly done by helicopter and armoured vehicle. The unit today is essentially a ‘line-haul’ unit and equipped with semi trailers rather than tray trucks. They are also painted in ‘olive shiny rather than ‘olive drab’. Neither do these people need to carry weapons everywhere they go, including their mess, shower and to bed!

mark_3          new_old

The first photo is a 3 tonne Mark 3 International Cargo Truck. In Vietnam, we were equipped with the the 5 tonne version which had dual wheels at the back (6 wheel drive). The second photo shows a range of trucks from new to old that have seen service in 85 Troop over the years.

It was good to feel that there was some continuity in a unit that was an important part of my life. It has recently served in East Timor and some members have served in the Middle East. We need to update the knowledge of the unit’s history however, as not many current people knew anything of the Troop prior to 1976.