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IN SUPPORT OF FELLOW VETERANS - Veterans supporting Veterans


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My name is Robert (Bob) J Meehan and in 1969 I was required to register for National Service and then served most of my two years compulsory military service as an Infantryman within 12 Platoon, Delta Company of the 4th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment (4 RAR). 

During that time I was posted to Townsville and South Vietnam and was discharged in late 1971. In the early 1980s I became involved with Australian Vietnam Veterans’ movements and am still actively involved today. 

In this book I wish to share with you my thoughts and that of many of my mates on why we, as war veterans, feel the need to help others, to share in their lives and to help preserve the history of past events that others, not us, might say should be best forgotten. 

I want to share with you the highs and lows of being a very proud Australian. 

I hope you enjoy my story and that of my mates.

In Store Price: $AU29.95 
Online Price:   $AU28.95

 

AMAZON

ISBN: 978-1-921919-40-4 
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 288
Genre: Non Fiction
 

 

 

 


Author: Robert Meehan OAM
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2012
Language: English

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AUTHOR BIO 

My name is Robert (Bob) J Meehan. I am an upholsterer by trade. I had just completed my indentured apprenticeship when I was required to register for National Service. I was accepted and entered the Army in October 1969. I was posted to 1st  Recruit Training Battalion (1 RTB), 3rd Training Battalion
(3TB), Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) and then served most of my two years compulsory military service as an Infantryman within 12 Platoon,
Delta Company of the Fourth Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment (4 RAR). In that time I was posted to Townsville and Vietnam. I was discharged
in late 1971. In the early 80s, I became involved with the Australian Vietnam veteran movement and am still actively involved today. 

n this book I wish to share with you my thoughts and that of many of my mates on why we, as war veterans, feel the need to help others, to share in their
lives and to help preserve the history of past events that others, not us, might say should be best forgotten.

 I want to share with you the highs and lows of being a very proud Australian. 

I hope you enjoy my story and that of my mates.

Introduction

 

 

N

early all cultures have found ways of remembering wars and honouring war heroes. Some preserved the memory through myths and legends and others built monuments in some form. Early monuments, carved in wood or stone, were usually erected as memorial panels in cathedrals and churches and it was not until after the Napoleonic Wars that freestanding monuments appeared in public places. These memorials were not to common soldiers and sailors but were heroic tributes to victorious individuals, usually conquering generals or admirals. One of the most notable is Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square in London. The first memorials to ordinary servicemen came after the Crimean War of 1854-56 when the suffering and courage of British soldiers was recognised for the first time. The Great War of 1914-1918 fostered an enormous community need to establish lasting memorials to those who served their country. Today Australia has more war memorials than any other nation per capita of population.

In this book I will endeavour to show you some of the different ways we as veterans have come together to help and support each other long after our return from military service. I hope to share with you some of the many ventures and experiences in which I was privileged to have been involved, in relation to the Vietnam Veteran and to a lesser extent to the Korean, Malay/Borneo and the current war veterans, both at home and overseas.

Chapter 1

PART SAMPLE 

In support of fellow veterans

 

 

T

he Vietnam War was Australia’s longest conflict in any single war. Australia had military personnel in South Vietnam from 1962-1972. Sadly those who saw service in South Vietnam were not treated as returning servicemen and women. They faced a hostile public who had little appreciation of the actual facts involved. Every person has the right to form their own opinions but to find fault with those who returned from active service is so morally wrong. In reality it is because of those people who served that everyone actually enjoys those rights to their opinions. It seemed that in those years of protest marches, a very important factor was overlooked by those who directed their anger against Vietnam Veterans. That anger was misplaced badly, and many veterans suffer from that rejection up to the present day.


“It is politicians who make wars; it is men and women who fight them.”

 

Military personnel are highly trained and skilled in various specialties to perform their duties efficiently to safeguard their country. While they have a high degree of specialisation in the art of combat, many of them are not adept with facing the nitty-gritty of day-to-day life once they leave the service. The effect of active military service can be profound and lasting, and some veterans have found it difficult to adjust to normal life again. Many have become plagued with alcohol and drug problems, crime and some have even committed suicide upon their return. Others like me had family relationship breakdowns.

On our return from Vietnam there was very little help available for veterans with problems. After the Australian Vietnam Forces Welcome Home Parade held in Sydney on 3rd October 1987 veterans started to come together and help each other. We pressured the government to provide much-needed support. We also encouraged local governments, councils and other communities to support veterans’ projects. Within this book I will endeavour to show some of these initiatives in which many of my friends were involved.

Many of us found answers by attending reunions with our mates. Shared experiences during and after military service could be discussed openly and freely without being judgmental with each other. Veterans found solace with their mates. That’s why I’m a great advocate of holding reunions no matter the size: small or large.

Throughout this book I talk of my own battalion – 4 RAR – but all units or corps hold reunions on much the same formats, therefore this story also relates to them.

 

4th Royal Australian Regiment (4 RAR) Reunion

Townsville, Queensland

25th Anniversary – 1989

 

The 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (4 RAR) was an Australian Army infantry battalion and part of the Royal Australian Regiment. The battalion was formed on 1st February 1964 and was renamed the 2nd Commando Regiment on 19th June 2009.

The first 4 RAR reunion I attended was in Townsville, Queensland in 1989. I left Sydney and drove up to Townsville in the company of Alan Mackay and Graham Moss. Alan had taken special leave from his employment in Western Australia and flown to Sydney for the trip north. Alan used to carry the M60 machine gun in 10 Platoon D Company and I carried mine in 12 Platoon on the 2nd tour of Vietnam in 1971-72. Graham was a rifleman with D Company 1st tour in 1968-69. We called into Mount Hutton, near Newcastle en route to pick up some flags that I’d ordered from Ray Cousins (ex French Foreign Legionnaire) to be paraded at the reunion. Ray was an official flag maker for the Army. He and I had been great mates for years. It was a late departure from his place as both he and Alan decided we couldn’t depart while Ray’s fridge had booze in it.

The next day we called in and saw John Bergmans in Brisbane, who unfortunately had work commitments and couldn’t attend the reunion. We had a cuppa with him, his beautiful wife, Jan, and his family. We stayed at Alan’s father’s place that night before heading to see John Lawton at Rainbow Beach the next morning. John managed a hotel there and invited us to have a beer or two and dinner with him that evening. Next day we called and saw Michael (Harry) Duggan in Rockhampton but he was playing a round of golf and was too busy to talk to us, which was disappointing but not unexpected. Next we called to see Doug Randall at Sarina, who also couldn’t take time off to go to the reunion. Again, we had a cuppa and some homemade cakes with him and his lovely wife, Glen (Glenyce). They had a great home by the beach. Doug has always been keen on the ocean and fishing, so he had the best of both worlds there. They had a cashew tree growing in the yard that was in fruit. It was the first time I’d seen cashews growing, and it is fascinating how the nut forms. After our visit we headed to Townsville.

(John Bergmans took over from Michael (Harry) Duggan as my Section Commander of 8 Section, 12 Platoon, Delta Company 4 RAR, and Doug Randall was a Rifleman in the same platoon as me. John Lawton was a Forward Scout with 10 Platoon.)

On arrival we booked into motel units behind Townsville RSL Club. We met up with Mick Kennedy; another Delta 4 bloke (now deceased). Next day saw ex-members of the battalion forming up on The Strand to march from the Rock Pool down the centre of the road to Anzac Park in Townsville. The flags I’d picked up en route were proudly carried at the front of the parade, just behind the main 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment banner. After the pleasantries and formalities were over, most of us retired to our favourite drinking holes of old.

I had an appointment, arranged by John McGilp (ex-4 RAR, now deceased), at the local TV station to promote the proposed Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial to be erected on Anzac Parade in Canberra. I don’t know if it was nerves or just being tired from the trip, but I fluffed it by saying we needed $2.1 million to build it instead of $1.2 million. Maybe it was the attractive, young lady doing the interview. John and his mate, Paul Pulis (ex-1 RAR) were the Far North Queensland representatives for the memorial committee. They were both doing a magnificent job of fundraising and getting the much-needed information out.

That night we attended the Battalion Dinner at the Townsville Golf Club. It was a very elegant affair, with the ladies decked out in their finest gowns and most of the men in suits or tailored dinner jackets. I had on my scarlet-red sports coat. The standout for me was a bloke who decided he’d look awesome wearing a kaftan. I felt he failed dismally. I asked Garry Heskett who he was and was informed his name was John Blayney-Murphy, a reinforcement who replaced some of us national servicemen who left Vietnam when our service commitments were up before the tour ended.

Not many of my platoon had turned up, which was very disappointing. Alan had met up with his number two on the gun – Gary McGlone. They kept the bar staff busy late into the evening. I spent mine at a table shared with Charlie and Val McKenzie, Daryl (all now deceased) and Kerry Morrow and his 10-year-old daughter, Rachel. We talked of old times as Charlie was a section commander in our platoon and Daryl another machine gunner from the platoon. Young Rachel and I tripped the light fantastic on the dance floor, which we still talk about today. I caught up with Bob Brown and his beautiful wife, Daniella. Bob was with Charlie Company on our tour. We met up at the Welcome Home Parade and the concert in The Domain, Sydney in 1987 but this was the first time I’d met his family. I had a great night with old friends.

I’d designed and paid for a quantity of 4 RAR and Delta Company Port as a special treat for the members. Chuck Kizis (American veteran), who worked for Ansett Airlines, had it flown to Townsville, freight-free. As Chuck had never been to an Australian military reunion, I invited him to join us. I sold most of the port at cost to the members and placed some on the tables for official toasts. I happened to see an officer sneaking a bottle off the table and hiding it in his wife’s bag. I went over, asked for it back and uncorked it before placing it back on the table. I then uncorked the rest of the bottles on the tables. Childish and immature on my part? I don’t think so. If he wanted one for free, all he had to do was ask. Very little was shipped back to Sydney. It was fantastic catching up with old mates, meeting new ones and their families.

I really enjoyed the reunion as it gave me a chance to meet some of the men who were there at the formation of the battalion in Woodside, South Australia in 1964. They were the “Old & Bold”, men to be respected. Most went on to serve in Malaya, Borneo and in some cases to Vietnam in 1968-69 and 1971-72. They were the soldiers who left behind them the great legacy, that of being one of if not the best infantry battalions in the Royal Australian Regiment. It gives me great pride to have been a member of the battalion. I met up with George Bostock, whose brother, Gerry, had taught me at 3TB in Singleton and a bloke called Ray “Shorty” Hannah, and they went out of their way to inform me of the battalion’s history. The motto of the regiment is “Duty First” – one I live by to this day.

 

 

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