In my twilight I ponder,
As confused thoughts wander,
Can’t believe some of the things that I saw;
Recalling all hardships,
How steel-bonded mateships,
Were forged in that cruel Asian war.
Amazed by outsiders,
Though some stay deriders,
A little interest comes now from a few;
Like a cure for cancer,
There’s no single answer,
Apart from the things they went through.
‘I’m alright Jack’ attitudes,
And abuse of power, by only a few;
For those minor exceptions,
Meanwhile, the friendships just grew.
Many suffered together,
In all sorts of weather,
Soaked daily by monsoonal rain;
Hunted black-cladded ‘baddies’,
Trudged over rice paddies,
Or through thick jungle on mountain terrain.
Our own Southern Cross,
’Twas a bonding icon of course,
And ‘Conscription’, ’tis one reason supposed;
Yet, real truth I am sure,
Hides elsewhere in their core,
Either way that club’s membership’s closed.
’Twas the foot soldiers’ lot,
Food from one common pot,
If one could call it perhaps even that;
They dug pits and built fences,
As make-shift defences,
Around their base camp, they named Nui Dat.
Nerves rarely relaxing,
Guard duties, behind a gun, ‘round that knoll;
In ambushes silent,
On each other reliant,
Past that barbed wire, out there on patrol.
Sharing that pain,
Of a death once again,
Directly involved, or to be just a part;
Rapidly aging in years,
With news when one hears,
Ripping your insides, tearing your heart.
With hard times endured,
These ‘boys’ soon matured,
Truth on film back home rarely shown;
Together bonded by sights,
During dark days and nights,
Tragic scenes that most haven’t known.
Images frozen in time,
Briefly penned now in rhyme,
Explanations have here been proposed;
A nightmare back then,
For a select group of men, In a club, which has membership ‘CLOSED’.
This poem is an attempt to comprehend that inexplicable bond that exists between veterans who, together, have experienced war.
♪♪ And the sign said: ‘Ya Gotta Have a Membership Card’ ...
… to get inside! ... ungh ! ♪♪
- from the song Signs by Five Man Electric Band, 1967.
“I wouldn’t want to join a club that would have me as a member!”
- Groucho Marx.
5 Platoon Members - Nui Dat 1966 5 Platoon Members - Holsworthy Re-union - March 1995