Well, we have just had a wonderful time at Port Macquarie with my old army unit where seventy five fellow veterans and their partners attended the 13th bi-annual reunion of 85 Transport Platoon (Vietnam).
Our event began with a ‘Meet and Greet’ evening at the local Southport Club which gave us a big chance to catch up again. The night was full of hand shaking and back slapping as we found old mates, some of them for the first time in a number of years.
We were each posted to Vietnam individually to form an ongoing and rotating manning level of the Platoon with a tour of duty of one year. While the Platoon operated in Vietnam continually from 1967 to 1972, we really only got to know the others who were there at the same time. For some reason, those that made up the Platoon at the same time as me (from 1969 – 70) were the largest group at this reunion.
On the second day, we all went on a tour (three coaches) to two of the local attractions – The Slim Dusty Centre and The Pub With No Beer.
Slim Dusty was Australia’s most famous country and western singer, producing dozens of gold albums. These are on display at the museum that celebrates his 48 years of touring on the Country and Western circuit.
The ‘Pub With no Beer’ was one of Slim’s moist famous songs. It was based on the pub at Taylors Arms running.dry because a beer delivery was delayed. Running out of beer is a mortal sin for an Australian Country Pub and a cause for despair. We had a lunch there. Ironically enough, the draught beer that I preferred had run out and for me that pub really had no beer!
Sunday, August 18 was Vietnam Veterans Day. This day commemorates our biggest battle in Vietnam when a small force of Australians defeated over 2000 communist soldiers who were preparing to attack our main base at Nui Dat. Their defeat was so overwhelming that the Vietcong never initiated another attack on Australians for the rest of the war.
You can see the local news report of the service at the Town Greeen of Port Macquarie here.
On the final day of the reunion, we had a free day prior to our formal dinner at night. Jill and I used this time to visit my friend Max whom I only get to see very occasionally. He lives on a small farm property about 40 kilometres out of town. We had a long chat over lunch with Max and his sister who was visiting from Sydney. Max and I had been in the same unit at Puckapunyal before we were posted to Vietnam. While I was posted as a driver to 85 Transport Platoon, Max was posted to 1 Australian Field Hospital as a driver.
Our dinner at night was a real success with a good band playing lots of Vietnam era music. The last task of the night was to determine the location of our next reunion in 2021. After some cajoling, prodding and pleading with no one putting up their hand, we Victorians decided that we couldn’t let these get togethers die out, so we stepped up and offered to organise the next one in Victoria. We have good experience in organising three previous reunions and we plan to use it to put on a great event next time we all get together.