Donald William TATE

TATE, Donald William

Service Number: 1201907
Enlisted: 6 February 1968
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 9th Battalion The Royal Australian Regiment (9RAR)
Born: Brisbane, Queensland, 1 May 1949
Home Town: Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Richlands State School
Occupation: Teacher
Memorials: Parramatta NSW Department of School Education Officers Roll of Honour
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Vietnam War Service

6 Feb 1968: Enlisted Australian Army (Post WW2), Private, SN 1201907, 1 Australian Reinforcement Unit
23 Dec 1968: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Private, SN 1201907
27 Jan 1969: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Private, SN 1201907
27 Jan 1969: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Private, SN 1201907, 4th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (4RAR)
14 May 1969: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Private, SN 1201907
14 May 1969: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Private, SN 1201907, HQ 1st Australian Task Force, Vietnam
15 Jun 1969: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Private, SN 1201907
15 Jun 1969: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Private, SN 1201907, 9th Battalion The Royal Australian Regiment (9RAR)

LETTERS FROM JIM RIDDLE

The following comments were made by Cpl James B. Riddle to me in a series of emails from 2005-2006 before he was repatriated to Australia.:

“Don, I've read most of your website, and seen the photos of you, and I can read a whole mountain of pain in your eyes, mate.  You are certainly changed. No-one should go through the sort of stuff you've suffered, and certainly not a person who was, as I recall, a bloody decent and laid back youth.  Someone owes you a huge apology.”

“The guy I knew was a young dreamy kid with a shy smile who kept us all laughing in the worst of times.”

“I was very moved when you got posted to 9 R.A.R. and came to say goodbye, and said, ‘Thanks for looking after me Jim’. That was a REAL medal I won't forget. Take care, and I sincerely hope yer still alive mate! You never could be trusted to watch a tin of spaghetti and meatballs being inflated on a hexi cooker... bastard!! I still have the scars.”

“I so well recall the most cheerful bloke in Vietnam. Mate you were a life saving diamond. I honestly felt that you were the only sane thing there. I actually remember the very first time I saw you was when you stepped off the bus at (the jungle-training centre) Canungra. I had been first off with the files of all the rio’s, (yours was 1" thick with pre-military events, and all the others were 2 pages!) and presented these to the officer and sergeant as I stepped off the bus. They had me stand beside them as they called for the name of each man who stepped off the bus, and checked him off. Near the last there was this tall, gangly, fair-haired kid, who grinned unmilitary-like at the officer, stepped down two steps, and seemed to disappear in front of us, very fast and smooth, and went completely under the bus. The officer and the sergeant and me just stood there in shock and awe. Then an arm came out from under the step, and quickly, with practiced skill, the whole six foot, gangling kid sort of stood up, and brushed at his uniform for a second, all the time grinning in an unmilitary way. He said, "G' day, Private Tate”. Then I saw the sergeant, in a stunned manner, tick his list, and shamble off up the path to the reception building shaking his head. I had started a long and amazing friendship with one of the world’s most complex survivors. We shipped out and joined the 4th RAR, then 2nd D&E. Then they found we were too embarrassingly good, so they disbanded us and we went to 9RAR and destruction. I have so many recalls of you my old pal that I could and would, love to write a book about them. BUT would you feel insulted? That would not be the intention ‘cos I thought you were absolutely indispensable to any outfit I served in. As a matter of fact you were well loved by every one, wherever you went. You actually WERE a legend in the Australian forces. No word of exaggeration- I had people coming from other units into the lines at 4 RAR, asking to see you. Ask Jim Sillence, he was my gunner at the time, with Greg Sullivan and Roger Kerslake.......”

(on the controversial article I wrote in 1986, about an incident that occurred while I was serving with 2nd D@E Platoon):

“I recall the girl who was killed at the ambush, and there was another on the way back, after the ambush, when the tracks were in a panic and heading at speed while firing at people in the fields, on the way to Xuyen Moc the following morning. That was when we dragged the bodies behind us. Yes, the lads came and asked me what I thought about that, and I told them I was pissed off, but it was the thing soldiers do who are in their first combat and who are 'out of their lids’. I'd seen it before, and felt bad, but war is not for humans, so for a while, we were not human. I later got a lecture about teaching my blokes to be killers, and that they would some day have to be re-indoctrinated into society. I agreed with the view, but also pointed out that if they followed my teaching, they were very likely to return alive and whole, to be re- indoctrinated. This was when I was with the 8th RAR, (where we got a Vietnamese Cross of gallantry with bar.)”

(More about 2nd D@E Platoon (made up of the left-over, regular soldiers from the 4th R.A.R. who didn’t have six months duty behind them):

“I also recall we were at the ambush with a dumb arse outfit of APC prats, when they sprang an ambush and they didn't know they had kills until I went out and picked up the weapons and brought them back. Then they wanted to run over the bodies till I told them they'd have to do the body-search. That was when I got all that Dong $ and put it behind the bar in Vung Tau for the platoon. Our motto was "What You See Is What You Get”! Jock Rennie got killed shortly after. Ah yes, Normie Rowe, the pop star, was with that APC group as radio man. I slapped him for being a noisy twat!  You were M60 sentry just as we moved off, and we went to Xuyen Moc and went 'wild'.”

(I asked him for more detail about those ambushes....)

“The ambush you refer to was one after Thua Thich, but just about 500 or more metres before, and on the opposite side of the clearing.  We were attached to a new and totally green bunch of trackies under Capt. Laurence (I believe). The group included Normie Rowe. The claymores were fired off at night when someone on sentry heard some faint noise and triggered it. The next morning I stood the infantry to, including you as I well recall, and then I went out front and collected 4 AK47’s from the dead.  I came back into the ambush position and handed the weapons to Laurence. He had no idea we had killed anyone, assuming it had been a misfire, and that we no longer had any claymores to defend our location, he panicked and tried to rush his whole outfit, including us grunts, out of the trees and over the clearing to a large open grass area. I hopped into his APC and told him to warn his trackies to avoid the areas directly to our front where the 4 bodies were, and he got all tough and ‘theatrical callous’ and told them, over the radio, to just drive straight out over the dead cong. I grabbed him and told him that if they did that, then his fuckwits could search the bodies, not us! As you know, when a body gets run over by tanks or tracks it becomes a mixture of blood, bones and clothing wrapped around cats meat. Not easy to search at all. So he immediately stopped being ‘theatrical hardman’ and told them to alter their directions of charge according to my directions.  We then broke out of the ambush, across the path and out across the fire trail, out into a wide open grassy plain, and I said I had to go back with some ‘Indians’ to sort out the bodies. This was his first action and he was in some panic at being undefended and in jungle. He was a total tosser. Later that afternoon, he left us grunts out in the grassland and drove into a village. There, his tosspot tankies emptied all our packs out of each APC and of course it pissed down torrents.  When we caught up with their defensive circle, our kit was swimming down gullies. They hadn’t even bothered to bring it in out of the storm.  I was well f… mad at him, and that’s how I came to slap Normie and to give Laurence a good snarling at. He reported me and the whole 2ndD&E Infantry as “a bunch of ill disciplined animals controlled by a disgusting foul-mouthed mercenary.” Blimey Don, calling me disgusting was a bit of a blow to my pride. When we got back to BHQ at the Dat, I was fronted up to OC HQ Coy (Major G. Pratt, if I recall) a real idiot pom, who told us we would get more kills if we aimed carefully and held our breath and squeezed the trigger when triggering ambushes!! No shit. Anyway Don, this was the ambush when I called you to get off the back of an APC where you were manning our M60 as sentry, and you came running to the back of the carrier and ran straight off the back, as though there was no 7ft drop! The M60 nose-dived into the earth and had to be cleared while we were out in the grassland. I believe you came back to search and ‘bury’ the VC. This was the time I discreetly collected many thousands of Dong from one of the couriers. These guys were going into Dat Do to buy supplies. The Yanks played it that the VC used to just plunder what they wanted, but that’s another yank bullshit story. Later I put the whole cash collection behind a bar at Vung Tau and we all had lots of free beer.  That was the last I saw of Jock Rennie, ‘cos he was killed in 9 RAR some weeks later. Well mate, that’s my solid recall as it happened. I hope this all helps to place some missing bits of your jigsaw. There’s quite a lot more..  .”

(On Peter Allan, who served alongside us in the D@E Platoon, and blew up an officer after being re-assigned to the 9th R.A.R.):

“I don't recall Allen (The Fragger) from our D&E exploits but, I actually met him when I got sent to Vung Tau detention for 14 days for slapping a sergeant cook. It was during my boob time that I again met ‘Snow’ Manski (Dennis). I was on chain gang duty and loading supplies into containers.  He talked to me, but seemed withdrawn. I recall taking him out into the killing ground at Thua Thich (where we’d killed a bout a dozen Viet Cong) to see his first dead, and he threw up. I figured I was doing him a favour, letting him see the real war. Maybe I was insensitive. Sorry to hear about Foster and Dooley (from the 4th R.A.R., who have since died.) I remember them, and Margetts was the skinny kid with black hair who seemed all agog most of the time. Was there someone called Lurch in the 4th R.A.R.? Seems to ring a bell. I do recall ‘Bear’ (Gary Winchester) getting a shot thru the magazine of his rifle during the assault on the bunkers outside of a Fire Support Base. His whole attitude changed after that. It was in his eyes that he was vulnerable! I also recall running up to where ‘Zunt’, (Ian Morrison) Tommy Douglas, Willy (?), and (I thought you were another) were pinned down in front of the bunkers and my machine-gunner got shot across his arse. Willy got a back wound, and Zunt asked me for more ammo- SLR and M79. So I trotted back all the way to the last section and collected ammo off them, including from Blue Hempill and Sgt Peter Batty, then sprinted all the way back to the bunkers and tossed the extra ammo to Zunt.  The last bandolier got caught on a branch and we were both very reluctant to reach up for it. Lieutenant Bleechmore was our platoon commander. No one ever said thanks for that, and the next time the 4thR.A.R. came to Vietnam (1970), I joined them again, but they were a vastly different lot from those of the first tour! After the tour, we came home to Townsville, and Willy charged me with having 4 stubbies in the accommodation.  I was fronted up and told that because I had done detention in Vietnam, I was to be court martialled!! Blimey mate, they really hit me.  Willy came round after, and apologised ‘cos he’d been pissed at the time he charged me, and a couple of other blokes had offered to thump his head for doing it.  So much for pals....”

“I remember the bunker system, same one, when Zunt kept shooting M79’s into the trees and brought down great clumps of it in the belief that you were taking fire from up high. The second time we went in was a bit of a thing, ‘cos Black Jackson was supposed to take his section but he refused, so Bleechmore asked me to take mine in. I did, but I left my scout, (‘Mousey’?) at the back, ‘cos I didn't need a scout. We went in at the sprint to see if it was still manned. It wasn't.”

(On the time I left the bolt out of my rifle up at ‘The Horseshoe’, and was made scout as punishment, carrying a useless rifle):

“I recall when you left the bolt out... We were coming off the Horseshoe, towards the famous Lang Tan rubber. I was told what they had done (made you scout) and I objected, ‘cos it was bloody dangerous for you. I was on the M60 at the time and used to carry it across my chest, which surprised some folks. It was just before ‘Sharkey’ Sullivan made me section commander, that week.  I got the stripes just before moving to D&E.”  

(on training on small craft on the swamps in D@E Platoon, June 1969):

“I do recall that bit of water training on the Delta... That's where I recall Steve Patterson trying to do a deal with the local ARVN.  I asked him to organise something illegal ‘cos he was a sort of 'fixer and collector’. Another thing, I recall you being at the second ambush with the tracks, when I collected the dead nogs weapons and the tankie commander didn't even know he had 4 kills. He was a total prat.  Normie Rowe was a signaller at that location and I had to tell you and the rest of the D&E infantry not to laugh at him. He tried to rig a tree aerial, and threw the steel bobbin up into the trees and it came down on his head.  We all roared with laughter at him. I know you were somewhere around at the other big ambush when we called in Puff the Magic Dragon, ('Spooky’) and we shit when it dipped in an air pocket and sent that stream of red fire right across our front.  Jesus mate, that got me quite warm!”

(On the ambush at Thua Thich, May29th, 1969):

“I remember ‘Snow’ Manski being on the right of the ambush in a hole and screaming at me to tell them to stop firing!  He thought the incoming was from the APC’s who were about 400 yards away.  The next morning I found he's never seen a dead body so I took him with me to search them all.  There were loads.  You must have been there, but I can't recall more than 2 of the 9 of us that hit the column of about 250 NVA and VC. I know it was in a newspaper with "Corporal Riddle said they were crawling around us all night", ‘cos Tex Weston, a pal of mine, brought the clipping over when he came to 8 R.A.R. and I had joined them. Oh yes, it will be in my army records that 4 R.A.R. had me 'Psyched’ near the end of the war ‘cos I was cracking up. Considering the four wars, I had been in before coming to the A.M.F. I think I had done a trip too many.”   

“Regarding that big ambush (at Thua Thich). There are articles in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper about it, so you might ask them for details from the past re Vietnam, May or June 69? It was the biggest successful hit by Australian troops before or since, mainly because we had nil casualties.  Of course having nil casualties also works against the records, ‘cos they only give medals to cover disasters.  We also went on from that ambush, to being ambushed ourselves on the way back. ‘Bluey’ Pearson was choppering overhead, when I warned all Indians (infantry) to be prepared for an ambush soon. He went ahead in his Sioux chopper and spotted it and we killed a few more.  Shortly after that the lead tracks ran into a space with villagers doing dry paddy work, and that’s where you saw the woman and kid killed by the tracks.  It wasn't a deliberate killing. It was pure and simple panic by ‘trackies’ who had just been ambushed and were shit scared.  We tried to stop them shooting, but we were all standing up in the back of the tracks and couldn't get at the gunners in time.  These gunners were the untried ones. They joined us after the night ambush. Our kills were totalled, from both days, at about 50.  This was a figure brought back from local intelligence a few days later.  We had smashed the recruiting drive of a NVA and hardcore brigade who were moving north to link with a newly formed unit.   Like I say, no friendly KIA’s = no drama. Later I was told I was in for a medal from Australia and another from the Vietnamese, but I screwed that up, that evening in Xuan Moc, when I told the debriefing officer to ‘fuck off’ when he told me to stop calling a Yank major, ‘MATE’! Assoles. D&E Platoon was famous for a time. We were IT. That’s why they disbanded us. The other full Battalions were getting shit kicked out of them ‘cos they were led by wankers.”

“You were part of a ‘band of brothers’ who fought one of the MOST SUCCESSFUL BATTLES OF THE WAR. Unlike Long Tan, ours went into two battles, both of which we won without casualties.” 

“Bearing in mind that I never gave a vari-coloured shit for anybody's opinion, Don, we were just soldiers. I had no close mates. You may recall this. I considered all the soldiers anywhere near me to be my responsibility. I just was a very dangerous mother hen, and you were one of the chicks, but I have to admit,  you were more interesting than, say, ten others, ‘cos you could, I don't know, like bring sunlight when we were slumped. NO- ONE ever stayed slumped when you were there.”

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VIETNAM- The Aftermath

VIETNAM- The Aftermath

an article by
Don Tate

For one reason or another, I have become a very angry man in the decades since the war.
Some veteran friends see me as something of an enigma. Or regard me as an eccentric. Some have asked me why I have become so angry, and so bitter. They don't feel the same as me, so what was so different about my circumstances to theirs? And why didn't I seem to fit in with my fellow veterans of the war?
My memoir, 'The war Within' was an attempt to explain it, to some extent.


That I even felt I needed to do so says a lot.
To put it simply, I have not met another veteran of the Vietnam War whose circumstances mirror mine, or who have walked anything like the same path. Some will have walked part of the way, and might identify with the impact of some of the things that have impacted my life, and some will appreciate their effect on a man, and understand a little of what its been like for me.
But I don't expect that a lot will, so it might be a wasted exercise.
Nevertheless, this is my story, and these have been my experiences, in a nutshell, and this is why I am as I am:


My Service History:
I voluntarily enlisted in the regular army in 1968, in Brisbane. I did my recruit training in Wagga Wagga, and Corps training at Ingleburn, and volunteered for duty in Vietnam.
I arrived in the war as a reinforcement in December, 1968, being posted to Australian Reinforcement Unit on Christmas Eve, 1968. I went on to serve as a rifleman with the 4th Battalion; with 1 A.T.F. in the 2nd D&E Platoon- a sub-unit of HQ Company; and finally with the 9th Battalion.




I was a regular soldier, and not a conscript:  
I had been led to believe that if a man fought for his country willingly, he would be looked after when he came home. But it wasn't the case. Because of the politics of the matter, conscripts seemed to be looked after much better than regular soldiers were, on their return.
For example, I qualified as a high school teacher in 1979, graduating with 'Meritorious Academic Record' and finishing second in the class of graduates, but had to wait for four and a half years to gain a position in NSW, and then only after media pressure.
Even though I had a wife and five children to support, and a significant disability to deal with, I had to watch women and aboriginals get priority in employment. In previous wars, the veteran was given preference, but not so the Vietnam veteran.

I had served as an infantryman, not a 'pogo': 
While other branches of the armed forces saw action at times, most soldiers will agree that the infantryman endured more hardship, faced greater danger, and saw and did things that most 'pogo's (or rear-echelon soldiers) can only guess at.
Of my 207 days in Vietnam, I spent 197 days in the jungle, and because I was only 19 when I first fought in the war, its effects on me were even more profound because of that age and relative naivety. 



I was a reinforcement to an infantry unit, not a regular member of it:
A reinforcement (or 'reo') had a significantly different experience to men who had trained with a battalion, who had marched off to war with them, and fought with them from day one.
The reo turned up later, when men had been lost from the battalion by being killed or wounded, and replaced them. He was immediately under pressure to fit into the unit and perform. The reo needed to appreciate the peculiar tactics of the particular unit, and get to know his fellow soldiers in a climate of suspicion, and extreme stress.
As a consequence. most reos, like me, never formed close relationships with the men they fought with. This phenomena was accentuated if a man ended up as a 'reo' in more than one unit, as I did.



Serving in three different units within seven months:  
I served with the 4th Battalion (approximately 4 months); the 2nd D@E Platoon (6 weeks); and the 9th Battalion (4 weeks).
A man who served in just one unit found that he had an automatic psychological support base on his return home from the war. He would forever be part of that unit's history, be welcome at parades and reunions etc.
But the man who fought in more than one unit (and even more so if it was only for a short period) found that he didn't really 'belong' in any of them, and was largely denied that psychological support as a consequence. Invariably, he is always on the outside looking in. Most reo's suffer the same sense of not belonging.
Serving in three units exaggerated the consequences for me.



Being wounded in action:
Only a small minority of men were actually wounded in action.
Australia sent 60,000 to Vietnam. Of those, about 2500 men were actually injured to some degree, and of those, only some 1500 of us were actually physically wounded in combat (about 3%).
We then, are the great minority, and because there are so few of us, our particular circumstances in the context of the veteran world, get overlooked by other veterans and veteran organisations.
Men who were not wounded in action can hardly appreciate the impact on a man's life that comes from being physically wounded- either from the physical and psychological damage of the action, or the consequences on his life for the rest of it, afterwards.
As well, by being flown straight from a war zone to a military hospital in Australia, I was denied that opportunity to unwind on the trip home by sea- the trip that allowed most other men a period in which to come to terms with their experience in the war.
Particularly galling to me, and other wounded men is the fact that those men who came home physically unscathed and came back to functional families and employment, have no appreciation of what the physical cost to wounded men really was.
Many then joined veterans organisations where they pay lip service to the dead, ignore the wounded, and mostly go about feathering their own nests on the altar of 'psychological trauma', and spend their days chasing the biggest pensions they can get for themselves.
The man who was physically wounded in war, gets lost. This was made manifest for me by a sailor I met in Wollongong- a stoker on the "H.M.A.S Sydney". He spent fours hours in Vietnam waters, eight floors down in the ship, and gets exactly the same pension as I do, yet never saw an enemy soldier, never took a risk, never fired a shot. Worse, he struts about, bragging about the rort.



The actual circumstances of my wounding:
Men who fought as infantrymen know well the horror of jungle warfare, not just the threat of instant, brutal death and the reality of combat, but those other aspects often glossed over- the booby traps, the mines, and the day-to-day grind of jungle bashing in the tropical extremes.
In my case, I was wounded after my platoon was ambushed at dusk, in thick jungle, during a monsoonal downpour by a seasoned Viet Cong company entrenched in bunkers. With all the men in the first section either dead or wounded, my section was ordered into the killing zone to attack the bunker system. I copped a machine-gun bullet through the hip joint, and lay in the killing field of that ambush for over an hour before help came. Being wounded in such circumstances was no small thing to have to live with.

The time I actually spent in hospital after being wounded:
Whereas the average time spent in hospital by a wounded man was three weeks, I ended up spending more than two years in military and repatriation hospitals after being wounded. Because of one hospital error after another, I ended up spending seven months in bed or on crutches, five months immobilised in traction, then another twelve months in a chest-to-toe full body plaster- an absolute nightmare in the Queensland heat.
I was in hospital for so long, I even missed out on the Gold Coast holiday organised by the Rotary Club of Surfers Paradise- a scheme that allowed most wounded men the opportunity to get over the horror of their experiences.

Being permanently disabled as a consequence of war wounds:
Being wounded was one thing. To find that I then had to contend with a major physical disability for the rest of my life was altogether another.
Only other men who have been permanently disabled will understand why this is such a significant factor to live with. It is a matter of self-esteem, and ego.



Being left out of Army Records:
In the first Vietnam Veterans Nominal Roll, my name was left out of the official record as having served with either the 2nd D&E Platoon or the 9th Battalion- incompetent actions that caused me great distress.
Both have since been rectified, but only after I had to prove to Central Army Records that I had fought with both units.
In particular, the service with 9 R.A.R. was most important because I had been wounded with them. The newspaper record of my wounding made it clear that I had, but it was my super 8mm record of my activities with the units that I fought with that won the day.
Having your war service doubted by fellow veterans did me a lot of damage.
Being left out of this "official" record invalidated the historical record of my service, and denied me my place in history.
What was worse, was that I was also left out of the account of the ambush of the 19th July, 1969 in the same history when I was so badly wounded. Men who did nothing during the ambush that night, including the officer who led us into it, got great acclaim, while those of us who actually did the hard yards, who went forward into a withering crossfire of an ambush got no mention.
That record too, has now been corrected- thanks to Michael Mummery one of the platoon commanders who was present on the night.
In later years, I have been welcomed into the 9th Battalion's Association by General "Alby" Morrison (former commanding officer) and Lt. Brian Vickery (former platoon commander, and founding president of the NSW 9RAR Association) and it has made a difference.


The Nominal Roll has now been updated correctly- albeit still not recognising the '2nd D&E Platoon'.

How I have lived my life has been affected by an extraordinary range of traumatic incidents that baffles observers. These are some of them:

- 1966: seven teeth knocked out in a fight with bikies 
1968
- 30 stitches in a facial wound after a fight with a bouncer
1969
- involved in two major contacts on my first day on patrol in Vietnam, involving 4 K.I.A's, and 1 W.I.A.
1969: two bunker assaults against entrenched Viet Cong (two with the 4th; one with the 9th)

- major ambushes with D@E Platoon
1969
- riding in APC’S when one was blown-up by command-detonated mine
1969
- wounded in action assaulting a Viet Cong bunker complex
1970
- assaulted by moratorium marchers in Brisbane
1971
- 40 stitches in face and neck after being assaulted with a beer glass
1981
- employer demands that I drive a pan-tech truck down a mountain pass carrying 500 gallons of fuel in drums
1986
- bashed and robbed in school toilets whilst marking School Certificate
1992
- bashed with a steel bar by a masked intruder on a school excursion
1993
- bashed by ex-student with a piece of timber after a drugs bust
1998
- assaulted by Steve Cameron, a disgruntled cricketer (convicted of assault)
1999
- stabbed twice in the back in Brisbane in a random ‘thrill’ attack 1999
- bashed outside my home by cowards knowing I had just had a knee replacement

A series of controversial matters:
Over the three decades or so since I served in Vietnam, I have found myself embroiled in one controversy or another- some trivial, some not so.
Despite serving my community in a number of ways which resulted in my being awarded an Australian honour (the A.S.M.) the cumulative effect of the various controversies has been to discredit me in the eyes of some, and diminish my reputation one way or another.

As I said, there are not many veterans of the Vietnam War whose experiences match mine. No doubt there are those who did it tougher, but the great majority of veterans did it a damn sight easier.
But it is my set of experiences that I have had to live with, and deal with for more than four decades now, mostly without the support of fellow veterans and veteran organisations.
Truth is, I found that very few veterans, and fewer veteran organisations can honestly empathise with the peculiarities of my service, and some couldn't be bothered anyway. It's easier not to understand.


In my writings, published in major articles in Australian newspapers, and in my History resource 'The Long-Distance Vietnam Veteran' (which is used in high schools across Australia, New Zealand, and even some American schools) as well as in 'The War Within', I elaborate on these, and other aspects of my service.


Luckily for me, I carried a Super 8mm camera with me and recorded my entire experience. That film was donated to the Australian War Memorial in 1995, and was valued at $90,000 by the Australian Valuer-General.
Parts of it were used in 'The Colour of War The Anzacs'. I retain a personal copy.


So 'The War Within' is my story and 
I tell it like it was for me, and how it's been in the years since the war.
I tell it with anger and bitterness at times and as honestly as I can. It's not the story of every veteran of the war, just mine.

Veterans can be sceptical about the experiences of others, so I have had to provide enough detail to about myself to offset that. And, at the same time, I needed to demonstrate that I am no longer the naive, baggy-arse private who volunteered to serve his country, but an educated man with firm opinions that have come from life as a disabled veteran.

That others might not share my sentiments, or understand my experiences is neither here nor there. It remains my right to have them though, and express them, just as others have the right to express theirs.
We all earned that right in the jungles of Vietnam.



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BEING WOUNDED IN WAR

BEING WOUNDED IN WAR

(c)
Don Tate

In the third volume of his trilogy of the history of Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War,- Fighting to the Finish (Ekins, Allen & Unwin) the national historian records the circumstances of my wounding on July 19th 1969- an ambush in which two of my fellow platoon members, Cpl Andy Ochiltree and Pte Greg Salmon were awarded Military Medals for gallantry, as follows:

'At 3.30 pm., in a brief contact with two Viet Cong near a creek, 7 Platoon, C Company (9RAR) killed one of the enemy. They then began following blood trails. For two hours, soldiers struggled up a muddy hill through thick jungle and under a building monsoonal downpour. Daylight was fading and many soldiers were weary. There were few signs of the enemy until suddenly the platoon was ambushed. Within seconds, the leading section was cut down by heavy fire from machine-guns, RPGs and small arms. Forward scout Private Ray Kermode was wounded along with several other soldiers. The lead section and platoon headquarters found themselves pinned down by a platoon-sized enemy force in a large bunker system. Private Don Tate, in the following section, believed the enemy had been waiting for them. They were a 'determined, well-drilled outfit', he later wrote, and the Australians had 'walked into the classic, buffalo-horn shaped bunker complex'. Soldiers were 'caught in a killing field from which there should be no escape.'

‘Tate's section was ordered forward to provide covering fire. He and two other soldiers took an M60 machine-gun to the top of a slope and then assaulted forwarded into a storm of enemy fire. He recalled that as he ran, firing his automatic rifle wildly, and hurled a grenade just before an enemy bullet smashed into his hip, flinging him to the ground. Several other soldiers were wounded (including Private John Walker). Disregarding the heavy enemy fire, Lance Corporal Andy Ochiltree tried several times to rush forward to assist Private Kermode, but was wounded twice himself.......'' ( p. 295)

So what happens after that man is loaded onto the casevac chopper in a war zone and disappears from sight? For many, including fellow soldiers who were never physically wounded, most can have no appreciation of what the wounded man endures afterwards.

This was my experience:

The chopper flew us through the night to ‘Vampire pad’- the Australian Field Hospital at Vung Tau. The hospitalisation process had begun.

But if I’d thought the infantry side of things was bad, I was in for a shock.

I was to become the victim of the most negligent and insensitive medical treatment possible, profoundly affecting me for all these past four decades, and for the rest of my life.

The news reports (like the war records) were soft-coated for public consumption.

My condition was reported as ‘satisfactory’.

Satisfactory to whom? Some pencil-pusher? Some officer? ‘Satisfactory condition’, my arse. Whichever official handed that information out to the media should’ve spent a little time in my shoes.

***

A detailed analysis of my In-Patient Records and Treatment Records, recently gained under the Freedom of Information Act has been a revelation. It was better than a diary.

These are the significant entries:

July 19th, 1969: I’m lying on a thin table in triage, covered in mud, shivering with cold and shock. Nurses cut my greens from me leaving me naked, and begin to clean the mud of Vietnam off me. I’m surrounded by others all wounded in various manners, in varying degrees. Some officer from Intelligence is asking questions about the ambush- the who, and how many, etc etc. As if I cared. The triage doctor acknowledges that I had received a "gunshot wound" while "assaulting a bunker system", but can’t locate the bullet. He has a finger up my backside trying to find it. The chaos is exacerbated by the arrival of another chopper- loaded with men wounded by shrapnel from our own mines in the Long Hais. More officer stupidity. There is blood everywhere. Men screaming in pain. It all fades away as I’m prepared for surgery.

July 20th, 1969: There’s pandemonium in the ward. The Americans have landed on the moon. A doctor escaped the jubilation long enough to tell me I’d keep my leg but that I’ll never walk properly again, that I can expect to be disabled for the rest of my life. It was hard to comprehend. But I was more concerned about the wounded Viet Cong soldier left to wander around the ward like he owned the place. WTF…!

July 22nd, 1969: After a pep-talk and thank you from my Company commander, Major Laurie Lewis, I’m loaded on board a dirty old Hercules- the Air Forces’ cargo planes- and a three-day horror trip home commences. Along with about forty other men, I’m bouncing around in the back of that thing all the way home to Australia. We were hooked up to catheters and urine bottles and plasma, with wax stuffed in our ears to drown out the sound of the plane’s engines. It was the start of a realisation that we were no longer of any consequence. As reinforcements, we’d flown over by Qantas jet. Now, no longer able-bodied, no longer part of the war machine, no longer of use, we were just second-class citizens. The trip home takes four days- via Butterworth, Darwin, Richmond, Amberley. Most of us are in a worst state when we arrive home than we were when we left Vietnam.

July 25th, 1969: Army ambulances meet us on the tarmac at Amberley in Queensland, and we’re loaded into them. My parents have walked out onto the tarmac, but they aren’t allowed to speak to me, nor I to them. I watch them through the window of the ambulance like that haunting scene from ‘The Fountainhead’. My mother has gone grey in the eight months I’ve been away. My father looks gaunt. For the first time it hits me how hard it must have been for parents to have a son fighting a war so far away from home. They follow me to the Military Hospital at Yeronga. It’s an hour and a half away, but when they get there, some officious bastard sends them packing. Tells them they ‘aren’t needed at the hospital’. I’m distraught about this, and made my feelings known. I’ve got a raging temperature, I’m "shivering in severe pain and discomfort", and I’ve just come home after almost eight months as an infantryman in a war. But I’m not allowed to have my mother’s arms around me.

July 26th, 1969: An unknown doctor writes: ‘I suggest you watch this lad closely as his wound is of the type that may develop a chronic infection. The warning is ignored. Almost a fortnight would pass before a wound culture is taken. During the next fortnight or so, I’m forced to sit in a wheelchair, walk on the shattered hip between parallel bars, and get wheelchaired to a toilet. Each action is an agony. Even a person walking down the aisle, creating the most minor of tremor, brings tears to my eyes. But nurses and orderlies are quick to tell me that the pain is ‘psychosomatic’. No one is aware of it yet, but infection has set in, though there are continual references to it: ‘the dressing smelt offensive; there was vile-smelling ooze coming from the wound. A Capt. Maynard writes that he is ‘very worried’ and that ‘the patient is in considerable pain.’ But except for an increase in morphine (which doesn’t appear to have any effect) my complaints about the pain continue to fall on deaf ears. Despite my temperature remaining inordinately high, day in, day out, no one yet appreciates how much the wound has deteriorated.

August 8th, 1969: My father, who had the phone on, and lived just thirty or so kilometres away from the hospital at Ellen Grove, receives an ‘Urgent’ telegram from the Hospital. It reads: ‘Request permission to administer general anaesthetic to your son for a change of dressings and skin grafts.’ He telegraphed them back: ‘Permission granted.’ I’d been to a war and back, and still had no say in such things.

August 11th, 1969: (fifteen days after being warned to watch for infection): Alarm bells start ringing- ‘Apparently no wound culture has been done.’ A pathology test was undertaken immediately. The result- ‘profuse’ infection had now invaded the wound and the hip joint. All the walking and other activity on the joint had exacerbated the potential for infection, and the joint was severely infected. Now I’m in big trouble. Antibiotics were changed, and upgraded considerably. It’s a bit late though. I let the nursing Sisters know what I think of them.

August 21st, 1969: There is a simple note on the Nurse’s file- ‘Hates all Sisters.’ It wasn’t completely true, just some of them. I knew my own body, and it was obvious to me that I was being treated poorly. What the Sisters didn’t know was that my resentments were deep-seated, originating in Vietnam itself, where army stupidity had almost cost me my life on a number of occasions. One delicious Sister gets sick of looking at my face covered in pimples and blackheads from the filth of Vietnam, and sits beside me for a couple of hours cleaning me with cotton balls soaked in alcohol. It was a rare kindness. I fell in love with her. I was apt to do that.

September 1st, 1969: (it’s now six weeks after the gunshot): A pathology test records that now there were four different infections eating away at the joint. A new regime of antibiotics is installed. I’m ordered to ‘bed rest’, as if I had anything better to do.

September 22nd, 1969: The wound continues to deteriorate. I’m forced to weight-bear, though the hip is clearly unable to take my weight. Still, no x-rays have been taken.

September 29th, 1969: It’s been two months since I entered the hospital. Relatives and friends stop visiting. There’s a limit to people’s empathy. My leg is now about 10cm shorter than the other. I inform them that there is a discernible ‘clunk’ in the hip as I hobble between the parallel bars. Finally, they decide to take x-rays.

September 30th, 1969: There’s a simple entry on both the Doctor’s record, and the Ward Sisters Record after the x-rays. They state, rather innocuously, ‘It would seem that the bullet went through the femoral head, and the hip became infected.’ Eleven weeks of negligent care, but it only warrants the blandest of acknowledgments that they’ve gone about it all wrong. I notice that there are serious faces around me now. There’s a lot of ‘conferencing’. Nurses and Sisters now start acting more graciously.

October 1st, 1969: They place me in traction to immobilise me completely. It’s back to bed pans and piss bottles. The doctor tells me I’ll be that way for about another five months. I despair at that, and argue the toss with them. I see my life ebbing away. Outside my bedroom window, just about every weekend it seemed, the nurses and doctors would hold barbecues. There they’d be eating and drinking and having it off in unused beds in the ward, while we young men watched our own youth drift away. Frustration began to turn to bitterness.

October 11th, 1969: There’s another party in the hospital grounds. Beautiful nurses and Sisters, all breasts and thighs, flitting about a barbecue. And then there’s us patients, staring out the window at them. Me and three other patients get drunk on Bacardi rum smuggled into the ward by my father. He used a flower vase to disguise it. All of us were in traction- the other three as a result of car accidents back here in Australia. A Sister springs us dancing in our beds. I fancied one of them. She’s furious, enraged at our stupidity. The next morning, we’re all charged with some offence, and ‘confined to barracks. They also deny us our beer ration for a fortnight. Stupid bastards.

October 23rd, 1969: Something major is in the air. I hear the first mention of a ‘hip fusion’, though another report contradicts this- apparently, another expert is of the opinion that the hip will probably ‘fuse by itself’.

December 25th, 1969: Christmas. I talk myself out of traction, and am allowed out on ‘official leave’ because there’ll be hardly any nurses or Sisters around the place. I’m up on crutches, but the leg is now 20cm shorter than the other one. I’m allowed to spend time at home, where my father is charged with the responsibility for dressing the wound, four times a day. The hole in my side is still as big as half a football- full of pus and rotting flesh. He has no training in that regard, but it seems simple enough- take out the cotton-wool balls four times a day, then fill the hole up again. He does so religiously. Such sensitivity. In this manner, these brief respites from hospital, all my leave entitlements are eaten up, including all that I’d accrued in the war. Since I’d also missed out on the R&R leave all other soldiers got in Vietnam, I was pretty pissed off. Seemed like just another injustice. For the next seven months, I remain on crutches. There is no physiotherapy, nor any psychotherapy- no attempt to help me come to terms with either the physical or psychological consequences of having fought in that war. My muscles waste away in the leg, and I can’t tolerate any weight-bearing of any sort. Life is passing me by. The best years of my life are being lost forever. I have a good talk with an officer who comes around. He said I need to get some sex. I said, ‘You think?’ I’d had a few serious girlfriends around my bedside while I was in hospital in those early months, but found I tended to gravitate towards loose women when I talked them into giving me day leave now and then. Took a lot less work. I figured quality women weren’t about to bother themselves with a bloke wearing a nappy on his hip. Others aren’t too fussy. I was on a darker path of life, a real down slide. It was like sliding down the snake on a Snakes ‘n Ladders board, and the snake was a slippery one indeed. More snakes than ladders. But knowing it and doing something about it were two different things. I couldn’t pull myself away from it even if I’d wanted to. It had its perks.

April, 1970: Nine months have gone by. A Dr Bendeich notes that ‘(my) hip is as painful as ever.’ He determines a further course of antibiotics should be started immediately, as a prelude to a major operation to fuse the hip altogether in two months’ time, but only ‘if the infection seems adequately controlled and quiescent then’". It’s not spelled out entirely what a ‘hip fusion’ means.

May 10th, 1970: My 21st birthday has come and gone. I score someday leave and go into Brisbane to tackle the Moratorium marchers. I figure someone has to stand up for the men still up in the war, still fighting, still dying. Men like my mates from training day- Henry Stanczyk, and Doug Peterson. I wade into them, crutches and all, belting every man I can, and the big, tough unionists keep knocking me down. That night, I wondered at how reviled we veterans of that war were. How many other wounded veterans of previous wars would be knocked down by citizens on a city street?

July 1st, 1970: It’s been almost a year since I was first shot. In a radical, ten hour operation, the diseased and shattered hip joint is removed completely. Then, a bone graft is inserted, and a pin hammered through the bone, tied by a screw. The hip is fused. I had one of those out-of-body experiences late in the operation which had taken almost twelve hours. Saw myself on the operating table as they hammered the steel pin through my hip bones. I tried moving my eyelids to tell them I could feel the pain. I can’t. When I awoke, I was horrified to find I had been imprisoned in a full body plaster cast, from high on my chest to the toes of my right leg. I was flat on my back, vomiting over myself and unable to move in any direction. I was gripped by claustrophobia, like I was being slowly suffocated. They tell me I’d died for a short while during the operation. For days, the nausea and anxiety caused by that plaster was compounded by blood oozing from the wound, and I had to lay in it all that time, so that the plaster had turned a dirty black, from my stomach to my knee. When I needed to go to the toilet, the mechanical operation of using a bedpan was so difficult, that accidents occurred regularly. I could not be washed properly, despite their best efforts.

July 4th, 1970: A Sister’s note reads: ‘Pressure areas are not being done by staff.’ I’ve been laying on my back for four days already, and I’ve got bed sores on my heels and back, but her stern notation needs to be repeated again the next day, before I’m attended to. I met Carole Marskell at a barbecue at my parent’s house just prior to the major hip operation. I was on crutches; she, stunning, cascading black hair, and wearing a body-hugging, orange micro-mini dress. She was the most intoxicating woman I had ever met. She also had two children by the man she’d just walked out on. It was love at first sight. She was there at my bedside when I recovered from the hip operation. For the rest of July, that year, I was thus confined to bed before the plaster was changed. It needed to be- it was soaked in blood and pus and waste. Not even a bottle of ‘Old Spice’ poured down the front and back could kill the smell. They put a new plaster straight back on, but at least I had been cleaned up a little, and felt more human. At that point, I was considerably brightened. For the first time in a year, I had some positives in my life. My leg would be about the same length; I’d walk relatively normally. Just had to get through the plaster period. However, personal complications were arising. By now, I was allowed up on crutches, and could walk the length of the ward carrying this huge plaster cast. I’d met my future wife, Carole and the love affair was blossoming. I wanted out of that hospital, wanted Carole, wanted what was left of my life back. I was agitating for leave. They were concerned about the protocols of the healing process, without any real appreciation of where I was at emotionally, and me and those officers at the hospital were heading for a showdown. No longer was I an obliging patient, the mindless automaton they had turned me into way back before Vietnam. I voiced my feelings. By the middle of August I was threatening to go AWOL to get to Carole.

August 22nd, 1970: A Psych evaluation is done. A Dr. Purton states: ‘..his personal problems are overwhelming.’ I’ll say. I go AWOL in a taxi- still in the full body plaster. My feet are jammed up against the door, and my head sticks out the window. I meet up with Carole. The Military Police set up road blocks around Brisbane to catch me, as if I’m some escaped criminal. They arrest me in the morning. We’ve cemented our relationship. I know she’ll be there for me in days to come. Purton again: ‘He is in real trouble if the arthrodesis gets infected or disturbed, and threatens me that if I abscond from the hospital again, I’d be ‘tied to the bed for months.’ And risk losing the war pension they were paying me.

September 12th, 1970: Another Psych evaluation: The Commanding Officer writes that I had ‘complained of many injustices’ since my time in the hospital. While he conceded that ‘(my) claims could have some basis in fact, his elaboration and predicate thinking is indicative of a paranoid reaction.’ In his opinion, my reaction was ‘…related to his prolonged period of enforced inactivity, plus a projection of hostility against authority figures onto the Army. ' Of course it was. Einstein, he wasn’t.

January 28th, 1970: My time in the army is over. I’m discharged ‘medically unfit’. There’s no place in the army for men with disabilities. I’m uneducated. Got no skills, except for killing people. An ambulance turns up and transports me from the Military Hospital to the Repatriation Hospital at Greenslopes. I’m now a ‘veteran’ of the war. As a parting gift, the Army gave me a 30-day rail pass to use anywhere in Australia. A fat lot of use it was to a man in a plaster cast. Army stupidity at its best. April, 1970: Carole drives me ‘home’- an old bus parked in a caravan park at Birkdale. It leaks. There are no flyscreens. Frogs come and go. Mosquitoes abound. She has left a brand new home in Wollongong she had built and largely paid for herself. She lets her husband have it. Carole gets to keep her two children. It’s a new start if nothing else. There was only one way we could go. Upwards. I was now a disabled war veteran- but determined that I would never be measured or defined by it.

Fast forward to November 2012: Osteomyelitis has now invaded the hip joint., necessitating my 17th major operation since the war.

And so it goes.

For some of us, the war never ends.

In 2011, I received an email from a woman who had worked at the Military Hospital in Yeronga during the years I had been a patient. Her name is Fiona Blake. She wrote:

'I was a new immigrant from the UK, married with 2 young children and known as Mrs Fiona Harrison.

I was employed as a civilian pantry maid at Yeronga Military Hospital.

I used to see you outside your ward as I passed the grassed area to go to the kitchens to pick up my supplies for the morning tea I prepared each day for my ward.

I saw a young, tall, good looking soldier, obviously wounded from the war, in a virtual straight-jacket out in the sun, sometimes standing or lying on a steel trolley and obviously very frustrated about his situation. There were orderlies who used to push you outside but who looked to me like 'heavies' standing around you trying to make you comply, such as; keep quiet, lay down on the trolley etc there was a feeling of anger around your situation, you were obviously a troublesome patient for them and quite rightly so, it wasn't a peaceful scene.

I think that's why I remember you as vividly as I do as you were being treated quite badly and it wasn't right! I wanted to rush over and tell them to leave you alone without knowing all the ins and outs of the situation, but that was me all over when I was young.

I had learned from experience that there was strict adherence to the rules; therefore you would have been pushed outside in the hot sun at a specified time each day regardless of the effects that being in a full body cast would have had on your mind and body.

You often looked as though you were being tortured.

The overall impression that plays over and over again in my mind, when I think of you at Yeronga, is of a man made helpless, because of his war wounds, and that there was a great injustice being done to him. You had to be contained and you had to fit in with the hospital’s rules and regulations. The hostilities that surrounded returning soldiers, and the devastating effects that had on their young minds in the years to come was alive and well at Yeronga even then.'

That letter was instrumental in my receiving $50,000 compensation from the Defence abuse Response Taskforce in 2014.

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Biography contributed by VWM Australia

Donald William Tate was the eldest son of William Harry Tate and Gladys Mary Tate of Ellen Grove, Brisbane.

He left school at age 14 to begin work as a 'laboratory assistant', and at 16 became a clerk in the Queensland Public Service, working in the Public Curator's Office, Brisbane.

Turning 18, and with the Vietnam War in full swing, Donald Tate joined the Australian Army and volunteered for the infantry. In December of 1968, he volunteered for war service as a reinforcement in Vietnam.

After serving as a rifleman for almost four months in 10 Platoon D Company 4RAR in which his platoon was involved in a number of successful contacts and ambushes, Private Tate was posted to HQ Company along with 40 other regular soldiers who had reinforced the battalion during its tour of duty. The men were regarded as surplus to requirements of that Company (‘supernumaries') and placed into the 2nd D&E Platoon, created by Major George Pratt. It was initially led by Lt Barry Parkin, but for the most part, by Corporal James Riddle- a former English marine.

As a member of the ad hoc 2nd D&E Platoon, Private Tate was the machine-gunner in Corporal Kevin LLoyd-Thomas’ section at the ambush carried out at Thua Tich on May 29th 1969 under the command of Captain Tom Arrowsmith. Confronted by an enemy force estimated to be in the hundreds (stretching more than 500 metres along Highway 328) the combined armour/infantry force successfully ambushed the enemy force, killing at least 11 Viet Cong and suffering no casualties themselves. The combined armour/infantry force force was itself ambushed the next day (May 30th) and again suffered no casualties, but killed another five VC.

When the 2nd D&E Platoon was disbanded, Private Tate was posted to the 9th Battalion (9RAR) in June 1969.

Whilst serving with 9RAR in 1969, Private Tate was wounded in action during an assault on a Viet Cong bunker system. This extract is taken from the national historian’s volume,Fighting to the Finish (Ashley Ekins, Allen&Unwin, p. 295):

“….On the 19th July, C Company under acting command of Captain Lew Tizzard, had the heaviest engagement of the Operation (Hat Dich).

At 3.30 pm in a brief contact with two Viet Cong near a creek, 7Platoon, C Company killed one of the enemy. They then began following blood trails. For two hours, soldiers struggled up a muddy hill through thick jungle and under a building monsoonal downpour. Daylight was fading and many soldiers were weary. There were few signs of the enemy until suddenly the platoon was ambushed. Within seconds, the leading section was cut down by heavy fire from machine-guns, RPGs and small arms. Forward scout Private Ray Kermode was wounded along with several other soldiers. The lead section and platoon headquarters found themselves pinned down by a platoon-sized enemy force in a large bunker system. ….Tate’s section was ordered forward to provide covering fire. He and two other soldiers (Private John Walker and Private Greg Salmon) took an M60 machine-gun to the top of a slope and then assaulted forward into a storm of enemy fire. (Tate) recalled that he ran, firing his automatic rifle wildly, and hurled a grenade just before an enemy bullet smashed into his hip…..Several other soldiers were also wounded (including Private Walker). Lance Corporal Andy Ochiltree tried several times to rush forward to assist Private Kermode, but was wounded twice himself. Stretcher-bearer Noel Gibson crawled to the badly-wounded Private Kermode. As Gibson tried to free him, another burst of enemy fire killed the forward scout. Gibson continued to risk his own life, going forward repeatedly to drag a number of wounded men back to safety. Corporal Peter Bunn also assisted in carrying out the wounded, rescuing Private Tate.”

Following that wound, Private Tate was repatriated to Australia and spent the remaining eighteen months of his enlistment as a patient in 1 MIL Hospital, Yeronga, Queensland. Then followed two years of hospitalization including months in traction and a year in a full body plaster.

Discharged from the army in January 1971, Tate was transferred to the Repatriation Hospital at Greenslopes.  He remains a permanently disabled veteran from the war.

Don Tate married Carole Marskell and they raised five children. He became a High School English/History teacher and taught in the Illawarra region of NSW until medically retired.

Against the best advice of specialists, he played cricket and became a fast bowler for Shellharbour- taking an Association record of 64 wickets in a season in First Grade. He also played representative cricket for the South Coast of NSW- the first disabled person to do so.

In 2000, he was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for services to the community in the area of cricket, ostensibly for stints as Captain-coach of various local cricket clubs, and service in administrative capacities.

He has written five books including the best-selling memoir, The War Within;  and Anzacs Betrayed both of which record the formation and activities of the contentious 2nd D&E Platoon; In God's Garden- an allegory; and a number of newspaper articles for major metropolitan newspapers. Those articles included 'Ambushed'; 'Courage After Fire'; 'Anatomy of an Ambush'; and 'The True Cost of Patriotism'.

Between 2005 and 2008 he fought to prove that the 2nd D&E Platoon existed in the Vietnam War (it having been deleted from the records)- a battle that was won in 2008 with a formal announcement by the Hon Mike Kelly MP.

It was a battle that put him at odds with significant sections of the Vietnam veteran community that failed to appreciate the cost of compromised service records in a man's life.

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