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.