I was a baby boomer
Once we were soldiers

 

 

australian infantryman's combat badge
I was a baby boomer

© Don Harrod
C Company
1969-70

author: don harrod


I was probably typical of a kid in the 1960's.  We all had different upbringings, but had many similarities.  Our parents married at around the end of World War II, had their families in the late forties / early fifties, used their War Service loans to build their first homes, had limited incomes, but sustained family values. 

I had to be home before dark each day (but having a bit of a swim, letting the tyres down on the bike before getting home, creating a "whopper" to avoid being in trouble for being late, etc, etc,) was a part of our upbringing.  I did, however, know that I had to set the table for dinner, attend the meal, display manners, and wash up afterwards.  Whilst I was still quite young, my parents bought a country hotel, and I had to assist with the running of the business, despite 150km daily on a school bus. 

All this got a bit boring as our generation entered the workforce.  Then one day, the idea occurred to join the Army.  If the old man did it, I can too.  I went to the Recruiting Office in Perth, was "encouraged" to sign up as soon as possible, and in October 1967, aged 18, found myself at Kapooka.  Didn't even repay the old man for the car he bought me, despite my promises to him ... Gave it to Mum when I left. 

What a shock!  The sergeants and corporals barking at me, questioning of my heritage, the haircut, regular use of boot polish, washing, ironing, mess queues, more barking from sergeants and corporals, PT, another haircut, drill, weapons training, letters to and from home,  and all the while there were 47 others to keep me company.  That stopped the home sickness. 

After ten weeks, on a bus to Ingleburn, for Infantry Corps training.  The first trip to Sydney - another shock!  A run-down camp, provided solely for the purpose of pushing out infantry soldiers.  Real sausage-factory stuff.  Sydney itself was a real eye-opener to blokes like me, from country West Australia

Ten more weeks, then a posting to 5RAR.  I had made it!  I can still remember the jubilation of our platoon when told we were going to 5 RAR. 

We marched in on a Friday, started a signals course the next Sunday, went to Canberra for a Guard of Honour the following Saturday, came back a week later, resumed the course, and then spent the rest of 1968 training for war. 

February 1969 saw us in Vietnam.  History and this website relates the rest of this story.  We served our Battalion, the Regiment, and our Country.   

Most of us married, and established our own families after Vietnam.  It is these people who have given us the support and understanding, and to whom we owe the greatest debt. 

Who would want a better life?

 

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