For so many years now I have learned to keep my memories of the time spent in the army to myself due to the fact that in the past when it was raised most people were not interested in my experiences and said you didn’t go to Vietnam so what’s your problem.
The bus trip to Puckapunyal was somewhat all pleasant and courteous until we arrived at 2rtb and then all hell broke loose, we were marched to our barracks, had abuse hurled at us and called bloody nashos as if we were a burden on them.
The training was extremely intense and demanding but fortunately we were in most cases fit enough to handle it sadly for those who were not coped a lot of very unfair punishment like having to march around the parade ground holding their rifle above their heads and calling out loud I’m a dick head repeatedly.
Having survived recruit training I was transferred to the armoured centre at Pucka where we did driver training and servicing on centurion tanks and 113 APC , later to the 1st Armoured Regiment as a trooper driving a 52 ton Centurion tank at age 21.
Like for most others Vietnam for Australia was over so I spent the rest of my term, having stayed on the extra time to receive a war service loan which at the time sounded good as I just became engaged thinking it might be worth it, sadly the red tape and procedure was hardly worth it.
We did a lot of fire power demonstrations, tactics and many weeks out on the range, sleeping on the warm engine decks at night and often scared shitless by a mock attacks. On one occasion a handheld fire extinguisher discharged into my face, fortunately the crew commander poured water from a jerry can onto my face and then rushed to three camp hospital where I was bandaged up for a day or so not sure if I would be able to see again. As it turned out I was ok but have on going eye issues and suffer from tinnitus as a result of the exposure to the constant 20 pound main armament and 50 calibre ranging gun located directly above my driving position.
There are many more stories to tell but the like most I have read so far is the disgraceful way in which we were discharged and not given enough time to farewell mates or even exchange address and phone numbers. Then hitchhiked down the Hume Highway to Watsonia Barracks and have my discharge papers stamped and then home to a welcoming home party which was too overwhelming and as I vaguely recall got very drunk and camped out at a local park land as I was totally disoriented.
Meanwhile my parents moved down to Dromana and I shacked up with a couple of friends and prepared to return to my old job and was treated as oh good your back as if I had been away on a holiday.
Like others alcohol was a big problem, I married soon upon returning and not long after the relationship broke up.
At 71 years of age I have been alcohol free for eight years now and have enjoyed a successful career and a 42 year second marriage with two daughters one of whom sadly has no contact with me as a result of the alcohol abuse in the past.
I beat the grog after a two week rehab clinic where counsellors diagnosed me with PTSD and alcohol abuse saying the excessive drinking combined with PTSD was like pouring petrol on to a fire.
My retired life is now in order, play golf twice a week but never will forget the those years of my life, they will be with me for ever.

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