Tour of Duty '71

Index Page
A Combat Mission
Photos
Baptism of Fire
Battle of Long Kahn
Chronology
Facts And Trivia
History Of The Vietnam War
My Poems
My Aftermath

My Poems


ANZAC DAY

I once marched in Anzac Day,
For 30 years I had stayed away.
My medals so shiny and bright,
I pinned on my coat 'till they were just right.

I once marched in Anzac Day,
Because of a country so far away.
For a war fought in futility and waste,
For a war that left a nasty taste.

I once marched in Anzac Day,
With ghosts of men about who I pray.
We walked together through jungle thick,
And so many of us ended up so sick.

I once marched in Anzac Day,
Because of men I fought and had no say.
Of both sides men suffered and died,
For the sadness I feel I cried and cried.

I once marched in Anzac Day,
The crowds they cheered and they did say.
"Good on ya digger", their voices said,
And proud I felt and raised my head.

I once marched in Anzac Day,
For 30 years I had stayed away.
The last march for me it was to be,
I couldn't march again for the memories I see.


MY MATE

Of a strange time long ago,
And of a mate I did know.
Of a country far away,
And a place we didn't want to stay.

A place of war, blood, sweat and tears,
It filled us full of untold fears.
He was my mate, he and I,
We were there to kill, live or die.

We were mates together in the "J",
For the jungle was where we had to stay.
Of friendship there was no better,
Than times when we'd share a letter.

We'd share rations with one another,
It was as if he was my brother.
Of a mate I couldn't ask more,
He was there whatever the score.

The war was over and we split apart,
In Australia he disappeared to some part.
Many years did go past,
Until I found out at last.

The agony had become too much for him,
And he had settled for what some think a sin.
He had taken his life at last,
My mate from a long time past.


NIGHT TIME

The jungle green and now so dark,
We listen to hear a noise - a spark,
The perimeter made secure and safe,
At stand to we lay, everyone in place,
All weapons ready we face the jungle dark,
One and all lying steady with a racing heart.

We're soon told to "stand down",
The word's spread around and we all lay down,
We sleep with our weapons close at hand,
In case we are woken with a sudden loud bang,
Sleep comes quickly on the damp jungle floor,
And dreams don't exist in the jungle no more.

We take it in turns to man the machine gun,
But two hours on and four hours off ain't much fun,
The jungle is dark, nothing can be seen,
Our ears are our eyes as we listen like in a dream,
The jungle is alive with noises at night,
We separate what is real from what is just fright.

I've finished on the gun and now back to bed,
The next man takes over so that I can rest my head,
Things crawl on the ground around where I sleep,
But I'm too tired to worry about my keep,
I'm asleep in five minutes and worried I'm not,
Should anything happen I'm awake on the spot.

The jungle explodes as the claymores go boom,
The M60 fires too, 30 rounds of bullets of doom,
We are all instantly awake with weapons at the ready,
Staring into the blackness waiting quiet and steady,
I hear a noise dragging, like somebody shot,
It's heading my way and now I'm on the spot.

The noise coming closer the jungle so dark,
What do I do, do I shoot and take part,
Three metres I guess then it starts to move away,
A magazine do I fire or maybe just stay,
The noise it vanishes as it slowly moves away,
My fear and apprehension, I can finally alay.

Was I a coward because I didn't fire,
If I say I was brave am I a liar,
If I fired into the "J",
Would I be brave and could I say,
I'm just a man all alone and scared,
And I've just seen my soul open and bared.


OLD POP

The boy sat on his grandfather's knee,
Shiny medals and a picture framed did he see,
"What are those old Pop", said the boy
Old Pop said, "Those are my medals and not a toy".

The boy stared and thought for what seemed a long age,
His Pop remembering the years like a sage,
The picture showed a man young and care free,
His Pop wondered if this boy should he let be.

The young boy said, "What is a war?",
A deep sadness and pain was all the boy saw,
"A war is fear, loneliness and pain",
"A war is suffering with nothing to gain.

The young boy said, "Why did you fight?",
The old man struggled for an answer in fright,
"I fought for my country and the hope that someday",
"That you and others will be free today".

The young boy said, "Did you win the war?",
Old Pop didn't answer, he just looked down and saw,
The memories flooding back of friends long past,
Of guns, a jungle and a time that will always last.

Old Pop held the boy close and kissed his head,
Of the ghosts of the past and friends long dead,
A small tear rolled down his time worn face,
"Old Pop, I don't like war and I won't go to that place".

(For my grandchildren)


THE SOLDIER

I met this soldier once,
Who looked at me with strange eyes,
I asked him what troubled him,
And he said "I'll tell you no lies".

He looked at me,
With tortured eyes beyond despair,
I said "Come tell me son",
But it seemed as if he just didn't care.

The soldier just stared into space,
His face lined with pain and sorrow,
I looked once more into his eyes,
And realised for him there was no tomorrow.

He said he'd been where man shouldn't go,
He'd done what man shouldn't do,
He'd thought what man shouldn't think,
And he prayed it wouldn't happen to you.

The soldier stared at me,
With the thousand yard stare,
His eyes looked right through me,
And it gave me quite a scare.

His shoulders started to slump,
The weight upon him was so sad and such,
The long years had taken their toll,
I wondered if mortal man should suffer so much.

I looked at him one more time,
And in the sight I started to quiver,
The soldier had had enough,
And he turned away from the mirror.


THE BODY

I saw a dead body on the jungle floor,
An enemy soldier who cared no more.
He wasn't a man but just a boy,
Who should have been home playing with a toy.

I looked at the body and wondered in grief,
Why was this boy shot like a thief.
His face so peaceful and calm,
His life taken, had he done such harm?

His skin so ashen and white,
Where was the life that once was so bright.
The weapon he carried was dirty with mud,
His chest a gaping hole filled with blood.

I looked at myself and then at him,
What was the difference between me and him.
We were soldiers both he and I,
What if it was me who had to die.

This rotten jungle it has a lot to say,
If it could speak it would say "go away!".
If there's a place one could call hell,
Then here in the jungle would do just as well.

I saw a dead body on the jungle floor,
I'd seen enough and wanted no more.
The killing was so much in vain,
All it causes is long lasting pain.


AFTERMATH

The sadness I feel,
Should not be so real.
Each day is so long,
And I just can't get along.

At night I sleep alone,
Afraid to be with my wife,
For something I cannot condone,
For I sleep with a knife.

The images in my head,
Each night I try to sleep,
I sometimes wish I was dead,
But for the pills I keep by my bed.

The shops and stores I still go,
With my wife but I am full of woe,
The anxiety I feel is intense,
But in my mind it makes no sense.

The VVCS I first went to for aid,
A panic attack I had and did not know,
The police were called instead of aid,
Of help I received none and was told "Just go".

To jail PTSD has sent me,
I just wanted to return a phone,
Alone the police wouldn't leave me,
But to give in I couldn't condone.

To the hospital for help I went,
There was no help there I found,
So I said "Go and get bent",
And they called the police around.

Lock me up overnight they decided,
Six burly cops it took,
But they strapped me down on a gurney,
And filled me full of drugs for my journey.

Of drugs I have but plenty,
Tranquilizers, sedatives, sometimes twenty,
My doctor is very good indeed,
I just go to him and he says "What do you need?".

My wife is the one to deserve a medal,
I feel shame for the worry I have caused,
38 years she has been my rose and petal,
But for her, long ago I would have used the metal.

The "Black Dog" still comes to see me,
He drags me down 'till I can't see,
And I must suffer in silence 'till he goes,
For my wife, I must protect her from his throes.

Death walks next to me each day,
I never tell him to go away,
I yearn for the day to come,
When he gives me peace and I'm done.


TRY TO UNDERSTAND

If he stays home alone,
And doesn't like to hear the phone.
If he won't answer the door,
'cause he doesn't want to see anyone any more.

Try to understand...

If nightime is something to dread,
And his sleep is restless and fleeting in bed.
If he quietly gets up in the night,
So as not to disturb your pleasant respite.

Try to understand...

If he becomes nervous and jumps around,
At unexpected movement or a sudden sound.
If he sits in a restaurant with his back to a wall,
Because he can't have anyone behind him at all.

Try to understand...

If he shows no fear and wouldn't turn if he could,
That part of him has gone that says you should.
If his anger seems quick and extreme,
He's only trying to control intense emotions unseen.

Try to understand...

If he seems emotionless and indifferent some day,
And perhaps he just says "Go away!"
If he becomes depressed and may seem unkind,
He is only trying to spare you the agony in his mind.

Try to understand...

If his mood changes and alters,
And he becomes unsure and often falters.
If he becomes sad and stares into space,
He has only gone to some other place.

Try to understand...Because he doesn't...