Puckapunyal from 22/4/71 was a breeze really, compared to Singleton. Had a psyche rating of SG1 and “potential officer” stamped on my papers. No way I wanted to be responsible for the lives of others in Vietnam, so I didn’t pursue it and became a grunt with 7RAR.
I could go on and on, but the rot set in for me when I was charged on my 21st.birthday at Singleton for being in the boozer when it was made out of bounds to our company, supposedly our gear wasn’t up to scratch.
The duty corporal came in and spotted me and asked what I was doing there. I told him it was my 21st.birthday and I wasn’t going without a beer on that day.
He told me to get out, so I downed my beer and put the empty glass on the table
and started to leave. He said “You’re on a charge” and I said “What for?” He said “If you’d just left the beer you wouldn’t be on a charge”. What 21 year old bloke would just leave a beer in those days, especially on his 21st. birthday?
All the officers and NCOs at Singleton were Vietnam vets and the possibility of going to Vietnam was very real at that stage.
Anyway, was marched at double time by a Seargent and halted before the CO and given the order to right turn. The charge was read out and I was asked if I had anything to say. I said “No sir”. Given 14 days confined to barracks, from memory. Then marched out at double time by the sergeant and halted. He was surprised and asked me why I hadn’t said anything. I told him I was advised by my old man, a decorated WW2 veteran, that if I ever got into strife not to say anything.
Charge number two came up when we were loading the Jeparit (Because the wharfies wouldn’t.) and we were staying at HMAS Watsons Bay.
Had drawn night shift, so to fill in time we went up the Cross and had a few beers. Turned up for work and told we were on a charge and were sent to bed.
So in between numerous other charges, there were Victoria Barracks guards, a month long exercise in the Ulladulla state forest, an exercise with the Tankies and Centurions at Puckapunyal, weapons training, range days, a sigs course and plenty of other things I enjoyed.
The big green machine requires blind obedience to function effectively and there is no place for individualism. Buck the system and they’ll break you. They did!