5RAR homecoming page 2
Once we were soldiers



australian infantryman's combat badge


© By John Hunter
2nd Tour

Author: John Hunter

So after all the hassle with the Provosts' and the pay queue, we all finally meet up with our families and there were more tears, especially from my mother, so relieved to have me home in one piece and not like my older brother Bill, who was badly wounded three months before coming home.

I told the family that I had to say goodbye to some people that I had served with, so the goodbyes were heart-felt and we all agreed that we would meet again one day and that could be anywhere. (How little did we know that, that event would take place in Sydney in 1987 when more than 35,000 troops from all over the country, more like all over the world, from New Zealand, our partners in crime, the United States, the Philippines, South Korea and the Vietnamese community from all over Australia, it was quite a show..... A pity it was too late for some.)

So I pack the luggage into the oldie's car and we were off home to my parents place for the night. Mum had invited a few close friends over and there was quite a crowd and why not? As this was not only for me, this was for all the boys. I swear! If mum could have, she would have taken every one of the boys on the plane home with us. There was enough food and drink for all. My younger brother and wife were there and it was great to see them; but for now I was thinking of other things as mum had booked a hotel room for my wife and me, so we didn't stay at mum's for too long, but long enough for the first night. There was plenty of time for the rest of the family and a lot of catching up to do.

My wife must think I'm mad! because at first light I'm ready to 'Stand-To!' The old routine of awaking before first-light lasted just two minutes.....What am I getting up for? I'm Home! I'm confused.....must have been the strange events of last night. You know, getting off the plane and with all the excitement, not counting the strange bed-fellow next to me....Hey! this is no soldier and didn't smell like one neither and the air smelled different!..... It was good to be home. So we check out of the hotel and back to mum's place just in time for breakfast with the family.....especially my two boys.

My mother was surprised to see us so early, and the bemused look on her face said it all. I just smiled and said; "can an old Digger get coffee with breakfast?" Bacon and eggs coming right up! A beer first! So the old man and me sat out the back and started the day with a 'coldie'. Besides I wanted to borrow his car as I had some shopping to do as I wanted to see the boys' faces when I give them their presents. All this was too much for Mum as she burst into tears again. Anyone would think she wasn't pleased to see me at 0600 hours in the morning. I think she was just a bit surprised to see me back at her place so early. I explained to her it was just routine and routines don't change overnight. "But I'm home now so stop crying every five minutes." I haven't given out any presents yet and they'll have to wait until I've got back from shopping. And this is where things go strange as I have to drive Dad's car to the shops.