Hmmm… probably should’ve done some research before writing this, or at least watched a doco. But nope. Succession’s been taking up all my tele time. So, crikey let’s hope that I was paying attention in history class (and in all those drunken conversations with my father). Oi, pass the Carlton.
Okay, as I mentioned yesterday, a lot of my family have been in the military – the past generations anyway. My brother and I, we’ve not served though, maybe because there just wasn’t a big war at the time we were of age. Like the Iraq war was all happening when I was about ten years old, but if I wanted to, I could’ve probably gone to Afghanistan. Meh.
Still, this is not so much about me or my brother, instead this is about my father. You see, he did go to war, in fact, he did a pretty full-on service and was often right in the thick of the fighting. He was a soldier for the Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) in Vietnam. I’m very proud of him for doing this, just sayin.
Now, this is where my history gets a little fuzzy, as in, honestly the Vietnam war has always confused me a little. Like sheez don’t quote me on this but it was something like the north of the country was fighting the south, and one part was communist and the other democratic (and Laos was involved somehow too, Chinese influence blah blah). Anyhow, America being the bastion of democracy that it is, this is why they got involved. And as Australia is a major ally of theirs, this is why my dad ended up where he did – all the way with LBJ.
Alright now it’s time for the “drunken fuzz” to shine through. So, throughout my life, dad has very rarely spoken about his time in Vietnam, it’s only ever really been when he’s shitfaced. I think it must be too painful. And from the few stories that he’s told me (some of which are completely messed up), well just so you know I’m not going to repeat any of them here. These aren’t my stories to tell.
What I will say though, far out dad’s job in the army was ridiculous. Like if I enlisted and read this on a duties list, I’d probably piss my pants, start sucking my thumb, then just run away. See, dad was an engineer who built bridges and all that, but his other main role was that he was a bomb specialist. So, his troop would go in first (before the infantry) to find and detonate all the landmines – and set bombs too. It’s freakin insane. And going in first, dad was always in shoot-outs and shit. Again, it’s just bloody insane. Actually, I think dad’s troop or division (whatever you call it) had the highest number of fatalities in the whole war. Very sad.
When I was younger, I actually marched with dad a few times in the ANZAC day parade (again, this was always very rare as dad has tried to stay as far away from his old army life as possible). But I remember one year (I think I was about nineteen) and I was at some pub in the city chugging a beer at like 7am (before we were about to March) and this old bloke comes up to me and says “boy, so, whata you doin here?” His wrinkled face kinda scared me. Still I replied, “I’m here with my dad.”
(Oh, just quickly, I have absolutely no idea about this war stuff)… anyhow, I now see all the medals across this guys chest and he starts to press me, “so what did your dad do?” I was like, “um… Vietnam.” Instantly this digger’s aggressively back in my face, “what division, what years?” Eek… I said “I don’t have much clue about this stuff, all I know is that dad was engineers: one troop, one field squadron.” Well… well… that shut him the fuck up. In fact, he then got right up in my face and uttered, “respect.”
I’ll never ever forget that. Yep, dad’s a legend.