Who Wears the Costs?
Relegated to the past,
Though sad memories still last,
After forty years, or slightly more;
Throughout Bien Hoa and Phuoc Tuy,
Our presence caused misery,
During that Indochina War.
Requests for aid ’twas the claim,
Menzies’ lie ’twas his shame,
Young men died, and what was it for?
Yet, after several decades,
Still praised with false accolades,
Past deceit his disciples ignore.
Constructing a base ’twas first phase,
Homes destroyed, set ablaze,
Locals moved to Dat Do and Hoa Long;
That was a pretty poor start,
To win each mind and each heart,
And in fact it was morally wrong!
From ‘The Horseshoe’ to the sea,
To halt infiltrating VC,
A naïve plan, making little sense;
’Twas a military blunder,
By the ‘Brigadier from Down Under’,
A barrier minefield, called ‘The Fence’.
With widespread destruction,
From that long war’s conduction,
Victory in battle, ’twas all just for nought;
Though Long Tan brought him fame,
Jack Kirby, ’twas his name,
Killed by artillery, dropping too short.
A new officer controlling,
Out on his first day patrolling,
Was it a fatal, negligent decision?
Perhaps a mistake by him in this case?
Or a faulty gun plotter, back at base?
Co-ordinates were his own troops’ position!
And ‘High Brass’ intervention,
Is worthy of mention,
When enemy escaped a certain defeat;
To ‘Tigers’ on Nui Thi Vai,
And 8RAR at Long Hai,
Message from Saigon ordered all to retreat.
Such orders were flawed,
Based on politics and ignored,
That casualties would eventually rise;
Such short-sighted directions,
Pending up-coming elections,
Meant others later paid with their lives.
Seeking a Military Cross,
A uniform’s extra gloss,
‘Cannon fodder’ were of minor concern;
Yet a ‘Jack’ would bring down,
Even this ‘king’ with his ‘crown’,
Blind ambition means some never learn.
From ex-‘leaders’ we read,
The odd glorious deed,
Yet, of mistakes, there’s barely a mention;
For the sake of the code,
They ignore debts that are owed,
Truth masked with apparent intention.
So, ’twas a tragic sad shame,
Although who’s held to blame,
For the sacrifices some men paid?
Who wears any of the costs,
For all those young lives that were lost,
When mistakes such as these are made?
And who shares any guilt,
Of all the blood that was spilt?
Is there even just one, amongst all those?
Safe ‘sitting fats’ in the rears,
Promoted and forged their careers,
Wearing titles and shiny DSOs!
Who Wears the Costs?
From politicians and military ‘Top Brass’ come decisions that often lead to disaster. Yet, it is the powerless soldier who is left to pay the price of old men’s follies. The reference to forced withdrawals of 5RAR from Nui Thi Vai and 8RAR from Long Hai (in the face of enemy forces being surrounded) are each discussed in detail in Vietnam Task and Memories of Vietnam respectively.
♪♪ Did you hear them talk about it ... on the ra-di-o?
Did you try to read the writing ... on the wall?
Did that voice inside you say ... I’ve heard it all, before!
It’s like ‘déjà vu’ ... all over again! ♪♪
- from the song Déjà Vu (All Over Again) by John Fogerty, 2008.
“At the end of the most grandiose plans and strategies ... is a soldier walking point!”
- in Shelby Stanton’s The Rise and Fall of an American Army, 1985.
Sgt. Sam Hassall at 'The Fence' (April 1967) could be symbolically indicating: 'Stop this madness!' (photo y Tom Griffiths)