Category Archives: General Musings
On 26 August we are ordered back to the east of Dat Do, specifically near the Ear (so called because it took the shape of an ear on our battle maps), to look for signs of the enemy. We patrolled all day on the 26th and 27th without cutting any sign but late on the afternoon of the second day we hit pay dirt, unfortunately. We were moving through the jungle looking for a safe harbour in which to hide and ambush for the night with the Platoon Commander, Staff Sergeant Col Rowley taking the lead. A little after 1600 Staff Sergeant Colin Rowley sights and fires on a fleeting glimpse of a Viet Cong soldier. It was such a good site for a lay-up that the enemy had also chosen it. They had been there for a fortnight on retraining when we arrived to add some reality.
As explained in the book Conscripts and Regulars by Mike O’Brien;
“On 26 August, the Reconnaissance Platoon had been detailed to search for signs of enemy activity around the feature nickname the Ear, midway between Dat Do and Xuyen Moc. It was so called because the shape of the map contours on a 1:50 000 map of the area was similar to an ear. The next day, the Platoon Commander Staff Sergeant Col Rowley was selecting a night harbour position for the platoon 1 km south of the Ear at about 1615 hours. He had been leading for about 25 m when he sighted an enemy soldier going to ground behind a tree. He opened fire on the enemy and took cover. The Viet Cong returned the fire; wounding the scout (Pte Ray Gladman and the section commander of the forward section (Lance Corporal Neil Richardson). The forward section deployed and returned the fire. Enemy fire was now coming from left, centre and right of this section. The second and third sections deployed into an assault and swept through the enemy position under Staff Sergeant Rowley’s command. The Platoon Sergeant (Sergeant Williams) and seven soldiers were detailed to care for the wounded. The assault group fought through a camp with accommodation for about fifteen men. While they were using spigot grenades to clear one of the huts, a further burst of fire detonated one of these grenades, wounding a further three soldiers – Private Pat Kelly, Private Neil Nitshke and Private Darrel Gillies – with shrapnel.”
Being second section in line I heard the rattle of the Kalashnikov and the screams of wounded men. My men all go to ground facing the direction of fire waiting for contact drills to click in place. They look to me but I don’t notice as I’m still dealing with the moment and waiting for the forward man to yell out something that would start contact drills. Leaves are clipped from the trees overhead and I hear the familiar crack-thump of incoming rifle rounds and think ” Oh, Jesus Christ, what now?” I know we’ve already taken casualties because I can hear Sergeant Williams (the Platoon Sergeant) call on the radio ” Zero Alpha, this is Six-One, CONTACT wait out,” then “Zero Alpha, standby DUSTOFF, out.” The “Stand By DUSTOFF” is the give away, we know we have someone down.
The enemy fight back with alacrity, as we appear to be taking fire from three flanks all at once. What’s left of the leading section is returning fire while the other two sections wait on developments. Staff Sergeant Rowley soon has things moving and we form up to move through the lead section onto the enemy camp. We are moving fast and blind, as there is no time for reconnaissance when you are under so much fire. We could all die where we lay if we stayed for too long. We assault forward for some 10 m when it becomes apparent the main camp is now to our right. Staff Sergeant Rowley orders me to bring my men round to the new line of assault and when we do, we can now see the camp better.
My blood is up, adrenalin surges through my body preparing for the onslaught. Our faces are white as the brain redirects blood to our torsos for the “fight or flee” actions. No fleeing here, only fight, we are Australian Infantry and trained to handle these situations. However, this is totally against everything the brain knows. The brains primeval thoughts, contained deep in the “Limbic system” that part of our brain that evolved long before we developed rational thought; where our basic, primitive urges and feelings reside; has no doubts that this is one of those “flee” moments. However training, repetitive drills, discipline from earlier days on parade grounds, the fear of letting your mates down and the fact that we have already taken casualties, all go to making it possible for a man to stand up and move froward towards other men firing machine guns. Another thought is, if you don’t fight and kill, you will be killed.
AK47 fire is still coming at us but hitting higher in the trees. I guess the enemy were panicking or, hopefully, firing blindly as they withdrew. Machine guns hammering, short bursts from M16s the solid crash of the SLRs and explosions from grenades fired from the end of rifles, all add to the cacophony of battle. As we come around to the right this leaves a clearing on my left. Not good but its the least of my problems.
As we straighten up the third section comes into line to my right and as they do I see Pat Kelly, kneeling with his rifle rigged for spigot. He had been firing the grenades from his rifle and was loaded ready for another shot. I place my men on the ground and shout at Pat through all the noise to wait until my men are down. Just as they are settled I touch Pat on the shoulder as a signal to fire the grenade.
Another burst of AK47 whips through the jungle aimed at Pat and myself (we were kneeling and just a bit more obvious) and if the thought that we were lucky that we weren’t hit was starting to form in our brains, it was stillborn. One of the AK47 rounds hit the grenade and it exploded. By the nature of our positions, myself to Pats left rear with my right hand on his left shoulder and with Pats rifle being in his right hand, butt on the ground and angling up at 45 degrees, I was protected from the shrapnel. Pat wasn’t. We both were blown through the air, myself being slammed against a tree and damaging my back. Pat wasn’t so lucky, his face and torso were shredded and bloody. He was in shock and the first thing I remember is Pat mouthing the words, “Help me!” I didn’t hear it actually; I was looking at his face looking for signs of life and lip-read the words. Even if I couldn’t lip-read I could have guessed that is what he would have said. The assault of noise and colour associated with close proximity to high explosives has a fearful effect on the body and mind. I’m totally deafened from the blast and I’m obviously in some sort of shock but self-preservation is a marvellous motivator. I have to keep functioning or it could become worse.
I look to continue carrying out my last order and as I look around I find two men as yet seemingly untouched by rifle or grenade. I gather these two and we assault further towards a visible tent form whence we reasoned the grenade detonating AK 47 burst had originated. Expecting further bursts we move fast, low and spread out with our rifles to our shoulders aimed at the tent with fingers having taken “first pressure” on our triggers. We get there without mishap and exploit forward past the tent to the edge of the clearing. Going to ground we look for movement but any movement is on the other side. They’ve fleeing! I give them 2 mags of 5.56 mm rounds to help them on their way, more in frustration than tactics, but I knew some of my rounds struck home.The pressure is off! I’m relieved at still being alive but now thoughts turn to the wounded and the tallying up of the price we have paid to the gods of war.
Leaving a soldier to cover the enemies withdrawal route on that flank, I doubled back looking to help with first aid and comfort. Seeing the Platoon Medic with Pat, I went to Blue Nitshke and placing my hand on his thigh for balance, asked him where he was hit. He paled significantly and said some unkind words about my ancestry. Taking the hint I took my weight off his leg and noticed, under my hand, disguised by the thick dirty greens, a red pulpy mass of multiple shrapnel wounds.
(To this day Blue refuses to come to any sort of reunion and I sometimes think my leaning on his wound has something to do with that.)
“Sorry mate!” was my weak rejoinder, as I started to cut the trouser leg to apply a shell dressing. We worked furiously to comfort Blue Nitshke and then Darrel Gillies (GSW to the chest) while the Platoon Sergeant got on the radio to relay the bad news, five casualties and no Charlie to show for it.
“Six-One, this is Dust-off. Is the clearing North of you clear?” Charlie was most probably still running, but if they weren’t, they would be lying on the other side of the clearing, in ambush, watching our every move.
“Blue, are you wounded?” I yell.
” No!” he replies.
” Then grab a rifle, double across the clearing and shoot any bastard you see!” I said. He was a machine gunner and as we couldn’t afford to lose a man and a machine gun he would have to take one of the wounded men’s rifle. I went on.
” You are security for the Dust-off, so keep your eyes open!”
Blue being a good digger doubled away. Maybe he was cursing me, but he did it.
With the North secure, so to speak, the Dust-off Choppers started landing and evacuating the casualties. This went well and within 30 minutes we were ready to settle in the harbour that had cost us so much. We dined well that night on rice and bamboo shoots that Charlie had cooked, and then left in his haste to avoid a fight. We found more than food there including documents indicating that Charlie was C2, D445 Battalion, our opposite number, so to speak. The enemy platoon had just about finished a two-week refresher course and was obviously very switched on to defending and fleeing. Hope the poor chaps got their course reports.
Seven in Seventy, the history of 7RAR in South Vietnam commented as follows;
“Meanwhile the Reconnaissance Platoon who had deployed with Support Company in the Long Green had been moved North into the area of NUI NHON At 5 pm on the 27th of August, contact was made as the platoon moved into harbour. When the Platoon Commander moved forward to conduct a reconnaissance he sighted and fired on one VC. The VC returned fire wounding the scout and the Section Commander of the forward section. The Platoon deployed and received enemy fire from the left, centre and right of their axis. The two rear sections under the Platoon Commander deployed into attack formation while the Platoon Sergeant tended the wounded. The attack was pressed home but the enemy had withdrawn.”
Short prose records another day at war. We spent the night on the position each thanking his respective God for giving him another day, and quietly suggesting another night wouldn’t be out of order either, as we were short manned and expected a counter attack or at least some mortars. Nothing happened and the next morning we made our way to an RV with the APCs that would ferry us back to the base. Have a sleep, a cooked meal, maybe a beer that night and a day or two off. No way!
When we got back to the Horseshoe we learnt that Neil Richardson died in-flight and we were gutted. The scout recovered but will never be the same, Pat lost an eye, has had a heart transplant and Doctors are still getting shrapnel out of his body. The other men wounded that day will always remember lying shocked and bleeding in a far off jungle for a short but very significant period of their lives. They’ll never be the same; none of us would ever be the same.
What did happened was a reissue of ammo, more rations, no reinforcements and “out on patrol lads, no time to lick your wounds!”
Mike O’Brien concludes;
” In this action, one of the documents captured by the Reconnaissance Platoon was the training program of C2 of D445 for the fortnight beginning 13 August. The program was translated and issued widely in the battalion on 30 August. It gives a good idea of the attention paid by the local enemy battalion to tactical, weapon and field craft training. The Operations Officer, Major Kevin Cole, prefaced the captured translation with the thought that the lecture on the afternoon of 27 August had been rudely interrupted by the attack of the battalion’s Reconnaissance Platoon. If the Viet Cong had conducted the course critique that afternoon as planned it must have been interesting”
The survivors of Recce Pl, 7RAR gather ever year on the weekend nearest to Neil Richardson’s death and on the actual day (the 27th August) we hold a memorial service.
With three killed on active service, over 20 wounded and 19 having gone to their maker since Vietnam from suicide, cancers and the general difficulties of life, from an initial deployment strength of 31 soldiers, there are not that many left but while there is two of us we will remember!
Lest we forget!
Odds set….NSW complacent….roll on next game
Last June I had an incident that had me in Emergency. The incident proved benign but the nurses weighed me and as a result of that shock I went to my GP and he sent me to a Dietician and an Exercise Physiologist.
The result so far are shown in the IPhone graphic below…When I resigned from the Army I weighed 100 kilos and had for twenty odd years previous. When I left the Army I had just been posted out of the Regiment in the West so there was little fat at that weight. My target is to get back to the 100 kilos.
The dietician is so petite that the doctor’s wife told me she shouldn’t be allowed out in public as she shamed virtually every other woman. I told the Dietician the base line was I should be able to drink my two or three large flat whites per day made with real milk (I did come from a dairy farm after all) and should a social event occur, like most Friday, nights I would still have a beer or rum.
You can’t be anal if you want to maintain a long term program.
Portion control was the answer, eating nothing more than would fit in a small Royal Doulton sweet dish and eating something every couple of hours to restart my metabolism.
Fruit instead of pies, no coffee milk and plenty of salads.
All that plus the motivating effect of having the crap scared out of me by the scales at Emergency has worked.
The Exercise Physiologist had the biggest impact. I wrote a testimonial for his website;
As a highly-trained Exercise Specialist, Luke has a strong anatomical knowledge, has learnt the moves and drills, but to motivate people to change their attitudes to life is a rare skill and Luke has it in spades. Luke has changed my attitude and if you think yours needs changing then you need to talk to him.
A Personal Trainer has a TAFE Certificate; Exercise Physiologist have a degree and they know the body - they are the professionals in the game.
This post is not about “Look at me – I’ve lost all this weight!” but more a case of the dangers of letting yourself go and the subsequent need to recover. If I hadn’t lost the plot in the first place I wouldn’t have had to go through this regime.
The lesson to us older guys, and even young ones, is if you have arrived at a bad situation then do some thing about it. The sooner you recognize the need, the better the outcome.
See your doctor, find a dietician, go to the gym, find an Exercise Physiologist and restart your life!
If you live in Brisbane, click on the graphic above – I recommend them, not because this is a paid advertisement, it isn’t, but because I believe professionals like Luke at Restart give us a chance to get back where we should be.
If you live elsewhere see your Doctor and follow the path I did.
I detect a breath of fresh air wafting across the Bass Straight as Tasmanians have at last seemingly recognized the damage the Greens have done to their state.
The Liberals recorded a 12 per cent swing to take 51 per cent of statewide vote to give them power in Tasmania but in South Australia the Liberals cant win with 53.5 % of the vote
Apparently, according to Shorten, the South Australia result is because the locals don’t trust Tony Abbott.
Let’s be really clear. Federal issues did play a role in the last couple of weeks of that state election and South Australians don’t trust Tony Abbott, and there’ll be a lot of South Australian Liberals who’ll be ruing his intervention.
But no such matter exists in Tasmania. There is no mention of the Taswegians not trusting Shorten or the Greens.
I would rather think that the Libs didn’t run a very good campaign and they are hard put to beat the gerrymander anyway.
Such & Brock, the two SA Indies, have stated that they will follow their electorate wishes and as both their electorates voted overwhelmingly for a change of government thats what they should do. Of course, it’s highly unlikely that they will, given the very nature of independants.
One of the two federal independents who propped up Julia Gillard’s minority government, Tony Windsor, warned the two South Australian independents that they should brace for a public backlash to the anticipated hung parliament. “They’ll be blamed for everything that goes wrong,” he said.
Only if they do what you did Tony and go against the wishes of their electorates.
The Libs are slightly bouyed today by the ongoing counting and a possible hint of an attitude adjustment in the case of the Independents but I still hold feint hope.
Time will tell as the postal vote count continues.
More from the Adelaide Now
Lend Lease project Barrangaroo in Sydney is on fire.
Barangaroo area is being redeveloped as a residential and retail hub, with plans for a high-rollers’ casino owned by billionaire James Packer.
Lend Lease’s shares dropped 3 per cent after the fire broke out
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union assistant state secretary Rob Kera said workers were upset about the blaze.
“We conducted a full audit of the evacuation procedure on this site. To say it was an absolute disgrace is an understatement,” he said.
“The men at this point and time are pretty upset, they are pretty devastated.”
I smell a rat…Lend Lease….CFMEU…Royal Commission into Unions.
Could it be the CFMEU reminding Lend Lease how easy it is to stuff them around should the company spill their guts at the RC.
Worth watching …the man is very, very fast. Makes my attempts at Browning 9ml shootouts very ordinary.
An Australian missionary being detained in North Korea left Christian pamphlets in a Buddhist temple, his travel companion says.
Which is a pretty dumb thing to do in a communist country, particularly North Korea.
His wife says;
Now, “I know he’s courageous and he’s in God’s hands,’’ Ms Short said in an interview at the offices of the Christian publishing company the couple run.
Ah, such faith, but unfortunately the missionary isn’t in God’s hands at all. He is in the hands of Kim Jon-un. and that’s an entirely different matter. Not only does Kim Jon-un actually exist but he is quite likely cranky at anything Australian.
Only yesterday, listening to the ABC, I noted Michael Kirby getting headlines for his UN report accusing North Korea of crimes against humanity.
Kirby has a point but as usual, considering his left wing attitudes, his belief in the UN and its power is misplaced. He was talking of Kim Jon-un being fronted to the courts for crimes against humanity. Yeah, well good luck with that one Michael – all the report will achieve in the immediate future will be to raise Kim Jon-un’s ire and paranoia.
Of course, a connection between Kirby’s report and the arrest of a silly old missionary may well just be conjecture on my part but the North Koreans are a weird lot and and just to be sure, if I was an Australian of any calling in North Korea, I’d lay low for a bit.
Unfortunately for the silly old missionery there is a precedence set in North Korea. Last year, American missionary Kenneth Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour after being accused of committing hostile acts in North Korea.
Good luck mate.
AUSTRALIA’S live animal export industry has taken a new turn, with the first ever shipment of buffalo heading to Vietnam from the Northern Territory.
The (NT) government says it will also develop opportunities for Indigenous communities to harvest wild buffalo from herds on Aboriginal land. An original shipment of 222 domesticated buffalo will be joined by another 600 next week, and 1500 more in April when the wet season eases. Australian officials will travel to Vietnam in a fortnight to ensure that animal welfare conditions are being met.
This ticks all the boxes; income for the state, income for the enterprise and income for our indigenous mates, therefore animal activists will be all over it as they send covert cameramen to Vietnam to film buffalo being processed.
Thankfully, when the activist films show on Australian TV, the current adult government wont be closing the industry down like that fool of a man Ludwig who ruined the live cattle export business, affecting thousands of people, based on a TV show.
The enterprise can progress and money can now be invested with some sense of security.
I don’t particularly like buffalo as when I was a young tacker in Vietnam, whenever we came across buffalo in the field they would attack us, I guess because we smelt different to the Vietnamese.
Bad lifestyle choice by the buffalo as part of the different smell was made up of weaponry….heavy weaponry….and a lot of it!
It started with the Navy being accused of using profane language, then kicking and punching, then shooting at the boats and then finally torture by burning.
ABC MD Scott
“I don’t think there should be any attempt to somehow suggest that because the ABC raises those allegations, the ABC are advocates for those allegations — that the ABC has acted as judge and jury on those allegations. We have raised them because they are serious, they are important and they raise questions that need to be answered, and we have put those questions.”
So, as I understand Scott, the ABC can cite as news any allegation and present it in such a manner as to be truth. Later, when it becomes clear it isn’t true then the ABC thinks it’s reasonable to ignore facts and keep on citing the allegations as if they were still true.
Not surprisingly, this approach is only applied if the allegations reflect poorly on the Abbott government and it’s three aspects of normalizing Australia. Boat people, Carbon Tax and relations with Indonesia.
Paul Sheehan in The Age;
But the ABC has been worse than dull. It chose to knowingly damage Australia’s relationship with Indonesia by publishing Edward Snowden’s leaks of Australian spying in Indonesia. It then chose to knowingly damage Australia’s reputation in Asia by running for an entire week with accusations of torture by Australian navy personnel, despite not having a shred of corroborating evidence, and despite a super-abundant pattern of false claims made by asylum seekers who have destroyed documents, scuttled ships and claimed abuse…
Allegations by desperate boat people are run for a whole week without corroboration but harking back to allegations against Gillard by Union officials and lawyers, corroborated by affadavits, stat decs and police investigations, the ABC chose to not cover them.
EXPECT astonishment from the ABC’s vast national audience when the federal government places trade-union slush funds front-and-centre of a major inquiry in the New Year.
The rusted-on viewers and listeners will be bewildered because the taxpayer-funded state-owned broadcaster has imposed a regimen of strict censorship on the key element in the inquiry – the misuse of money from the AWU association which was established with the assistance of legal advice from former Prime Minister Julia Gillard when she was a partner in the Victorian Labor law firm Slater & Gordon.
Those who don’t take their news solely from the ABC would be well aware that the Victorian police are conducting a major inquiry into Ms Gillard’s role in the establishment of the Australian Workers’ Union Workplace Reform Association by her then boyfriend, Bruce Wilson and his AWU mate Ralph Blewitt in 1992.
Early last week, The Australian newspaper revealed that Fair Work Commissioner and former AWU boss Ian Cambridge has given sworn evidence of “gross irregularities” in the union slush fund that Ms Gillard advised on.
Not good enough Scott and it’s not good enough to blame News Corp, they are just doing what you should be doing, verifying whether there is any truth in the allegations, and they have found the entire beat up very questionable.
Gary, my mate in South Australia is a Radio Controll model plane nutter and I’ve long been interested myself. I have small chopper that I practice on but I found it too difficult. Like…start up….lift off…crash into ground…start up….lift off…crash into ground…repeat several times…go to hobby shop and buy more blades then start up….lift off…crash into ground…repeat several more times.
I felt I needed to have a real flying licence endorsed for Blackhawk to be able to fly but technology has stepped in, in the form of a pocket drone.
Start up…fly! Much better – I can now concentrate on photos and videos of my bush 4WD expeditions rather than the actual flying. Take your hand off the stick and it hovers; battery almost flat and it returns to base. With a “Follow Me” mode it will be easy to film driving the old Rangie up steep inclines and across rivers. Great videos to further bore my kids and friends.
It’s all about software.
Advanced software and systems with autopilot and “follow me” mode
- State of the art flight controls, algorithms and connectivity
- APM compatible flight controller 6-axis accelerometers, 3 axis gyroscopes, barometric sensor (altitude)
- Integrated onboard autopilot Flight planning with Google Maps
- Fly by GPS waypoints
- “Follow Me” mode (requires mobile device with GPS)
- Altitude Hold
- Return to home (RTH)
- Headfree mode (orientation independent flying)
- Load/Save and repeat/replay flight missions
- Real-time flight data
- Artificial Horizon
- Altitude Heading indicator
- GPS signal strength
- PC, Mac and Linux compatible
- Mission Planner or QGroundControl Compatible
- Android compatible (tablet and phone)
- iOS compatibility coming soon
Available in late April in the US I look forward to another great challenge – controlling drones.
More here if you are interested