Of the 50,000 odd Australians who served in Vietnam, only about 2,800 did so in the navy. Of these, eight were killed, 2 by accident, when a U.S. plane attacked their ship by mistake. The other 6 were navy pilots or divers. Navy personnel did short tours, many being as short as six weeks. Yet, the list of awards to navy personnel on a relative basis to that of the army, is in stark contrast to their overall duties and the length of time they served. Length of active service, the issuing of awards, the apparent relative dominance in ex-service organisations of one particular group, along with pension entitlements and recipients, have long been topics of contentious discussion amongst all three services.
“If you can master the act of sincerity– you’ve got it made!” - Groucho Marx.
RSL gathering of veterans (Author's collection) ' The Sydney' - (Internet source)
In Pubs and Clubs
Imaginations run free,
As they distort histor-y,
Tell tales and fantasise;
Over and over again,
An almost ceaseless refrain,
Some deliberate and clear blatant lies.
Some crowd R.S.L. clubs,
Or frequent their own local pubs,
And complain about what’s their lot;
Blaming nigh everyone,
Except of course No.1,
For the miserable lives they’ve now got.
Perched upon their bar stools,
Members of these ‘warrie’ schools,
Day after day and week after week,
Speak of things they’ve never seen,
And what perhaps could have been,
Now they are sick and life seems so bleak.
Favourite hue stamped by signs,
Tatoos of anchor designs,
Of mermaids, and other ‘blue’ scenes;
Veteran groups they invade,
Relish any excuse for parade,
Yet, dismiss all reference to ‘greens’.
Suddenly, next race is away!
Another bet gone astray!
(Their ‘fam’ once again misses out!)
What a bloody damn shame!
Yet, they themselves take no blame!
And then it’s time for another shout!
These odd ‘T.P.I.s’,
Some spin wild porky lies,
About so-called deeds their units did;
Though they some might deceive,
Even themselves might believe,
There are those whom they cannot kid.
“ ’Twas bloody tough, My Man,
Over there in Vietnam!
Six weeks stuck on a ship out at sea!
Dangers lurked in disguise,
Whilst unloading troops and supplies,
Vung Tau ’twas a war zone you see! ”
And yet it all must be true,
Those things they each had to do,
Since there were relatively few of them,
And because many rewards,
Most of the bravery awards,
Were issued to navy men.
I can now understand,
Life for the infantry man,
Compared to those in blue or in white,
Must have been really quite tame,
At least that’s what some claim;
You ask them! They’ll swear that it’s right!
Therefore, I cannot deny,
When I see young sailors who cry,
As they depart for some foreign shore;
Today, I should be glad that I was,
When we fought then for Oz,
A mere ‘grunt’, in that bloody war!
In Pubs and Clubs