I was in the 17th Intake at RTB3 Puckapunyal, July 1969

We did our Infantry Corp training at Singleton Oct 69 and then onto Holdsworthy Dec 69 on our way to Vietnam.

Warned for active service, last wills and testaments etc etc. A last-minute change was that 70 Nashos were needed to reinforce 1RAR in Singapore, so that was my Gig.

The recruit and Corp training were very tough, and serious, as we were training for War Service.

Of the 15 Months with 1RAR in Singapore, a lot of trips to Malaysia occurred, more for me than others, as I had become a Rifleman/Medic working in the RAP, and going with many groups to Malaysia, a lot of which were north of Butterworth on and near the Thai Border. It is now recognized that Malaysia was fighting the Malaysian Communist Insurgency War 1969 to 1989, and they were on War service. Later Defence documents reveal that the area was considered a No Go Zone for ADF personnel. This is another story on its own.

The trouble with this is that in 1970, 100,000 marched in different cities in Australia in the Moratorium Marches, the public’s perception of ADF personnel, especially those serving overseas had changed. We were warned not to wear our uniforms on return to Australia and integrate back into Civvy life transparently, ie. You hadn’t been in the army, and you hadn’t served overseas. You did nothing.

This realization that there was a lot of fanfare on our departure, and the country loved us, to we don’t love you and disappear like you have leprosy on our return, had a big physiological impact on me and many other National Serviceman.

Yes, we got the National Service Medal and the Defence Medal, big deal, two years of our lives taken from us, Jail sentences if we became conscientious objectors , not old enough to Vote, ie less than 21 years old, 15 months in a foreign country who were in a proclaimed National Emergency with no Parliament and also fighting a Communist Insurgency War against the same leader and enemy as in the First Malaysian Emergency, 1950 to 1963 roughly, yet I and other Nashos are to this day deemed to have Normal Peacetime Service, no VEA, no Gold Cards.

On one occasion, we were mustered into the Butterworth Air Base auditorium and briefed by Intelligence officers and told “We were going into an area that had recent CT activity and that we may encounter them. If we were contacted, then a resupply strategy was in place. Also, we were told that the reason we were going there was “To be seen to be present as a deterrent to the CT’s

As a National Serviceman, like tens of thousands of others, we trained hard, we served, and we have suffered ever since. Successive Governments have just acted as though our service did not exist. I know they have done Veteran Covenant’s, but that’s it. Our Vietnam brothers, quite rightly so, got their recognition and the public and Governments think they have squared off for all the Nashos, but what about the tens of thousands of us that never got to Vietnam. Just forgotten.

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