|1973 to 1979 - The Aftermath, Australia|
The rest of the 70's were great ... I was happily married, had a loving and lovely wife ... my job was going great ... I was promoted to the Head Teller of the Head Office, I was getting back with some old friends. Warm summer days down at the coast, BBQ's and picnics, going to the Drive In in a big convoy, card nights and parties. After 3 months back in the bank I applied for a job in the Public Service and started working at the Department of Foreign Affairs. Trish & I got our own home and started working on that.
Yes life was great. Oh there were a couple of minor problems ... I wasn't sleeping well at night ... dreams and nightmares ... I would often wake up in a cold sweat, screaming and shouting ... occasionally I jumped right up and hit Trish while I was still asleep. Everywhere I went I looked for ambush positions ... nice peaceful bush walks ended up with me on patrol, on edge, listening, looking left and right ... driving along country roads ... I spotted every good ambush position there was. Sometimes I would miss one. The minute that I saw that I had missed an ambush spot, then I would break out into a cold sweat at the thought that I had been slack. Trish's brother Bob Swanston & I carefully avoided each other and any mention of the 'Nam ... it was like an unwritten pact.
People wanted me to march in the ANZAC Day Parades. I did ... to please them ... but I felt alone amongst all these ex-soldiers. Who do I march with? The South East Asian Vets? ... they were mainly Korean War returned servicemen, The Regiment? ... mostly Second World War returned servicemen, the local branch of the RSL? ... mostly WWII and blokes that I didn't know. There were no blokes that I served with marching in Canberra. But I marched and listened to the ceremonies ... it felt good to swing the arms again and hear the crunch of feet in the gravel. But the ceremonies generally gave the Vietnam War no mention at all ... so I would pay my respects to the REAL diggers, the blokes from WWI & II. Then I would go down to the RSL club with Mick and we would get roaring drunk and play two up ... always I would come home feeling bloody depressed, lousy and alone, but trying to put on a happy face for everyone. Towards the end of the 70's people stopped ignoring us ... WAR (Women Against Rape) came out and threw urine and faeces over the Vietnam Vets and shouted abuse at us as we marched. We weren't welcome, I stopped calling myself a Returned Soldier and started calling myself a Vet ... I was different to all the other soldiers who had fought in the real wars. I stopped marching and have never been back since.
I took up darts again and was representing the ACT in the Southern Districts Championships. After a hard days play I went to the local RSL for dinner. The manager noticed my Returned from Active Service badge. He asked why I was wearing my father's badge ... I laughed and told him that it was mine. He was astounded, I was too young to have fought in WWII.
"Nah mate", I told him "I got it for Vietnam!"
"Bullshit!" he replied "that wasn't a war. They wouldn't give them out for that"
"Whatever" I said ... and left it at that.
Five minutes later he came back to inform me that I would get no more service and that I had to leave the club ...
"We don't let murderers into a Returned Servicemen's Club".
I threw my RSL badge and my Returned from Active Service badge into a garbage can.
By now I was drinking too much and my life was falling apart. I found out later that Dixie had been to Canberra looking for me, but couldn't find me. My marriage was falling apart, Trish didn't know how to keep it together and I couldn't help her ... I had no idea why it was all going so bad.
We had friends over for New Years Eve 1979 and promised that the start of a new decade would give us a new start. We looked forward to the 80's with fresh optimism ... misplaced as it turned out.
by Bob Wood
© 1999 - 2001
Home | History | Members | Stories | Weapons | Phrases | Pictures | Reunions | Boards | Poems | Jukebox | Awards | Links | Rings | Guestbook | eMail | Today
|Disclaimer:This site has no official links with the Army, Department of Defence, The Royal Australian Regiment or 3 RAR. The site is purely a personal page of recollections & photos of our great adventure and the blokes that shared that adventure. Any errors or omissions are accidental and regretted. Please email the Author and they will be corrected.|