I was posted to Alpha Company as a rifleman and because we have some specialist positions, ended up as a forward scout (point man). The battalion returned to South Vietnam in May 1969 and after a few days shakedown went straight onto operations. We fought our first bunker battle...company against company.... on the fourth day of our first operation -- so we found out what war was all about right from the start. I was forward scout for the full twelve months and in 1970, after the battalion had finished its tour, returned to Townsville.
I stayed in as an Infantryman for 20 years and was lucky enough to have postings to places like Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong as well as side trips to places like Japan and Hawaii. I left the service in 1987 and had a few jobs until I was lucky enough to be able to assist with tours taking veterans back to Vietnam. I have now been back in country seven times since 96 and hopefully will be back there many more times in the coming years. Even after being there so many times, I still get the old adrenaline rush and a lump in the throat every time I arrive.
Vietnam has become a bit of a passion with me now. It is such a beautiful country and is still largely unspoiled and offers so much to anyone who visitts. I have found that 99% of all the veterans we have escorted back to Vietnam and their old operational areas have enjoyed themselves and there have been some who have returned later to have another look.
We see places like the Long Hai hills in Phouc Tuy Province where we operated and every step could mean killed or maimed by mines...now there is a road up to the top which takes a few minutes where before it meant days of backbreaking and deadly, dangerous toil. The view didn't mean much then, but today it is breathtaking. I have walked the streets of Hue, still scarred by bullets and shrapnel from the TET 68 battle and as an infantryman, a grunt, admired the skill and bravery of the Marines who took it back from the NVA under the most difficult circumstances.
One can now look at the beauty of the country side on Route 9 towards Khe Sanh and Laos.. a photographers paradise.
If anyone wants to know anything about the photographs, or about Vietnam today then please feel free to e-mail me...if there is a delay in answering I am not ignoring the requests...I will be in Vietnam and will reply as soon as I return.
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