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
In this book I wish to pass on the history of some of
the great achievements gained during the fledgling days of the Australian
Vietnam Veteran movement through to the present day.
After having spent so much time with people close to you in a variety of high-intensity situations, it can be hard to say goodbye. Leaving behind the routine of daily military life is a change that takes a while to adjust to. On the other hand, you return to your loved ones and your hometown, and the joy experienced by many is nothing short of overwhelming.
Coming home means settling into your old life or starting a new one. This life after the military can begin a little roughly. Deciding whether to return home to your family and your old employment or look for a better job can be a tough decision.
returning home from my service in the Army, I found it hard to adjust. I
found that the people I’d known before going into the military seemed to
treat me as a leper. My own family kept saying that I had changed. I guess I
had; I felt that I’d matured. I could not relate to them or to my friends
prior to military service. My life had had a purpose in the Army; now it had
nothing. Friendships made in the military formed a bond that no matter what
the situation, we were there to support each other. My problem was that I
was with them one day and the next I was gone. I didn’t have the chance to
say goodbye to most of them. When I was discharged, I was told to go back to
a civilian lifestyle. I missed the camaraderie of those men with whom I’d
shared my last two years, 24/7.
returned to a hostile
This is my story of my quest and those of my mates. I trust you will enjoy reading it.
ot long after I returned home from my Army
service and my time in Vietnam with 12 Platoon, Delta Company 4 RAR/NZ in
1971, I went to the local Returned Services Club (RSL) in Brighton-Le-Sands
and joined the Sub-Branch, but most of the members were World War Two
veterans and they never made me feel welcome. They were not nasty, just
indifferent to what I asked or said. I let my membership slip and never
renewed it. A few years later after I had moved to Moorebank I thought I’d
give it another go. I called into the Edmonson VC Memorial Club in
John Edmondson VC
NX15705 Corporal John Hurst EDMONDSON
2/17th Australian Infantry Battalion AIF
“On the night of 13th April 1941, a party of German infantry broke through the wire defences at Tobruk and established themselves with at least six machine guns, mortars and two small field pieces. It was decided to attack them with bayonets and a party consisting of one officer – Corporal Edmondson – and five privates took part in the charge. During the counter-attack Corporal Edmondson was wounded in the neck and stomach but continued to advance under heavy fire, killing one enemy with his bayonet. Later his officer had his bayonet in one of the enemy and was grasped about the legs by him, when another attacked him from behind. He called for help, and Corporal Edmondson, who was some yards away, immediately came to his assistance and in spite of his wounds, killed both of the enemy. This action undoubtedly saved his officer’s life. Shortly after returning from this successful counter-attack, Corporal Edmondson died of wounds. His actions throughout the operations were outstanding for resolution, leadership and conspicuous bravery.
Dave Christie, a mate I’d served with in the Army told me his story about his return to civilian life and his quest to assist others.
Story by Dave Christie OAM
(Support Coy 4 RAR) Australian Army
I met Bob Meehan OAM during my three years of service in the Army, which was a memorable part of my life. It was because of that service that I realised the direction I had to travel, which was assisting other veterans in whichever way I could.
Bob’s passion and pride in all things military and his drive to get things done had a lasting effect on me and inspired me to look for places where we could make a difference.
When we veterans came back from
To not be welcomed by the RSL left many veterans bitter and divided, but with the passion that we had, many Ex-Service Organisations (ESOs) were formed. This fractionalised the veteran community as very few wanted to work together for the common goal, which was the Ex-Service and Veteran community. Finally there seemed to be a small percentage of veterans, who could see the benefits of joining forces, and we find ourselves today with 15 of the main ESOs working hand-in-hand to make a difference to the lives of the veterans and their families.
When I returned from
I lived in
There are many ESOs in this country, some of which include, RSL,
Vietnam Veterans Association, Royal Australian Regiment Association, Air
Force Association, Naval Association and the list goes on. Many of these
groups do great work with veterans from all conflicts leading up to and
including the current troops, whose job is becoming more difficult to do.
One of the ESOs, which has grown very quickly, is a group called Young
The role of the ESOs is diminishing and many of those groups will
find themselves in a position where they will have to join forces, due to
the lack of members as Ex-Service members pass on and for other reasons, so
time will tell. Many people, whose family members have served in the
military, understand the problems facing that Ex-Service person, with
financial and health issues. The need for ESOs to continue will be ever
present, but in a smaller role. It is up to our youth of today to keep the
tradition of our military history alive and this can be seen by the growth
in all the cadet units for the younger teenagers. The club I am in assists
four cadet units in our district and with the assistance of our Sub-Branch
we have made it possible for these units to continue and grow. These cadets
form a large part of our ceremonies for ANZAC Day,
As I look back to where I have come since joining the Army in 1969 to today, I am proud to say I have served, and I am proud to endeavour to make a difference to other veterans and the Ex-Service community as a whole, I am also proud to have served in the 4th Battalion RAR, whose motto is “Duty First” and which I see in many of those fellow members, Duty first to their families, their friends, their fellow veterans, their unit and their country.
David Christie OAM
HON President, Goodna RSL Services Club Inc
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