Sunday, July 6, 2008

And they are only 19

Tonight I read my good friends blog on Vietnam and I guess what it meant to blokes in Australia of my age. There is no doubt it has left an indelible mark on all of us whether we enlisted, were conscripted – joined the Citizens Military Force or similar or just chanced our arm at our marble rolling out for compulsory call up and even if you were a conscientious objector. And for those who went to Vietnam – God help them – so poorly recognized until recently and sent off into a useless war overseas. Of course, it never was a war – just a police action.

I have written about my Grandfather before see the link for a read. As a result of his injuries in the “Great War” he was terrified of my father being called up during the Second World War and was desperate for him not to go. He had gone and served King and Country and then spent the rest of his life watching his family struggle because of his incapacities.

My father was not 18 until 1942 and would have been called up, but in 1941 joined the Militia which was as near to the CMF of my day. He chose a path that served his country and his father’s wish albeit I do not think my Grandfather ever forgave him. In short he was picked from that to go to Duntroon and graduated as Lieutenant and commanded an anti aircraft gun firstly on Sydney Harbor Bridge and later overseas in New Guinea and Rabaul.

Well with all that history I joined the CMF in 1970 – 8 Company RAASC 28 Supply Platoon. I did not want to risk being called up. We were trained in Frontline Supply which meant I was trained in the handling of Ammunition and High Explosives – even was taught how to load Mortar Bombs and other devices at Gladstone. I was trained to handle POL (Petrol Oil and Lubricants) in the field including JetA1 for helicopters. I have been taught how to load and lash cargo nets and hook them up to the cargo hooks of helicopters. Believe me standing underneath a hovering helicopter with the loadmaster hanging out the door issuing instructions to the pilot as you engaged the cargo hook, red light green light duck under the skid exit to the rear with your head down was a bit of a rush the first time. Chopper blades are unforgiving. It was a great experience and I guess I felt I did my bit.It is time I consider well spent in my life for sure and opportunities I may never have had.

Then you are reminded of those who went and still are today. It is a sobering thought and you realize right or wrong the world must take responsibility for the genocide and cruelty that goes on. How do we sit quietly and watch innocent civilians being butchered by megalomaniacal regimes and who do we send in our often futile efforts to stop the stupidity.

We each have our ideas and ideology’s and what do we all really want – PEACE.
The right to freedom and freedom of opinion is the very essence on which each and every one of us believe – God help us all.

So many of my friends and family have been touched by war and even terrorism we must never forget those who choose the job as our Defence Force.

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