Graphic from the Australian War Memorial site

Amongst other interest I run a site for my Vietnam Alma Mater 7RAR, and of late I have redesigned it, mainly due to an increase in interest by the new generation of ‘Protectors of the Realm’. 7RAR currently has troops on operations in Afghanistan and the reality is, if they are not on patrol they can surf the net. Whereas us dinosaurs got some mail weeks after it was posted, and then only if the Posties deemed to let it through; and then only if we weren’t on patrol and then it could more weeks, these guys, members of the instant gratification technological age have immediate comms and I envy them. That’s where the differences end. They patrol as we did, they loose friends, wounded or dead as we did and the weights they carry, particularly their patrol order, look much heavier than what we dealt with. They also have to deal with a lackluster ally as we did. On the 7RAR site there is an interview with a Lieutenant and he is discussing training Afghani troops who think they don’t need it. One of the guys says he fought against the Russians so what can this young man teach him. The Lieutenant counters by saying, in an understated Aussie Infantry type of way, that the old man’s tactics are unsound. It brought back memories of a South Vietnamese Captain who pointed out that he had been soldiering longer than I had been alive. Maybe…maybe, but I also knew that the captain had never spent any more than one night in the field in all that time so I didn’t feel inferior in any way. I must have spent, at the very least, more than 200 days dossing on the ground in the jungle in that year. 7RAR have earned the right to be a part of tomorrows commemorations and if they do have time to stop they will be thinking of their wounded and of Corporal Mathew Hopkins who was Killed in Action on the 16 Mar 09
Corporal Mathew Hopkins was tragically killed in an engagement with insurgents while serving with the Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force (MRTF) in Afghanistan. A valued member of the Darwin-based 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment Corporal Hopkins was conducting a patrol near Kakarak when he and his team were engaged by a group of around 20 Taliban. He was evacuated by a Coalition helicopter to the nearby medical facility in Tarin Kowt as soon as the security situation allowed. Despite all efforts, he died shortly after arriving at the hospital. Corporal Hopkins was 21 years old, and was married with a young son.
Coincidentally, the two 7RAR soldiers KIA before Mathew in the sad chronology of death, died as a result of a mine detonation. Neither Alan Talbot or ‘General’ Paton knew what hit them but we did. The incident happened on the 1st of February, 1971. Alan died immediately and while I had hope for ‘General”, he succumbed to massive trauma five days later. I managed the Dustoff and the memories stay written indelibly in the dark corners of my mind. The bad news guys is just that – the memories don’t fade. The names are different, that’s all. Lest we Forget. Visit the Battalion website, look around and maybe leave a comment for the young ones in danger’s way in Afghanistan.


  • Hi Kev,

    What’s the feeling among vet’s about children/grandchildren marching for their deceased veteran relative?
    My Grandfather died 18 months ago, and on my last visit to my Grandmother, she gave me his WW2 medals etc.
    In his later years he rarely went to the ANZAC Day march, and while I had often wanted to talk to him more about his service, after they had moved to Tasmania (from Queensland), it’s something that never seemed to happen.
    Any info etc. would be greatly appreciated.

  • What’s the feeling among vet’s about children/grandchildren marching for their deceased veteran relative?

    Simply put, we encourage it. I presume you are talking about yourself and if so be sure to dress appropriately with a coat and wear your Granddads medals on your RIGHT breast. At the march try and identify his unit, approach them and introduce yourself – you should be welcome. If you don’t know his unit or ship go to the Australian War Memorial siteand look him up

  • Thanks Kev,
    Yeah, It’s something I’m considering doing.
    My Grandfather was in 2/12 Battalion, wounded at Tobruk and
    discharged late 1942.
    Where does the Brisbane march assemble?
    I’m not sure I can make it tomorrow, but I’m going to try.
    Thanks again.

  • George St near the Treasury Casino

  • Also Kev, How do I go about identifying older Medals?
    Inside the box I was given is also some WW1 and Boer War Medals, but I have little
    idea who’s they are (or even what they are in some cases).
    There’s even a newspaper clipping about a ‘Mentioned In Despatches’ during th Boer War for someone
    for someone who I assume is a relative, but can’t find in the family tree.

  • Name should be stamped on the back or on the rim of each medal

  • Although the guys can get instant gratification, they also need the post to recieve good old fashioned goodies. I’ve sent a few care packs to a bloke pulling UN duty in deepest darkest – most people don’t know that postage is free for a 2kg box. I have been slack, so he will get his box of Anzac bikkies and twisties and “iced tea” and other memories of home a bit late for Anzac Day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.