Poetry - Tiger Battalion

Nasho, Vietnam and After

It's '65 and you wouldn't wanna know,
Me numbers come up, I'm in for nasho,
Well, I'm young and don't have many fears,
I'll give it my best, It's only two years.
Medicals, physicals and all kinds of tests,
Then it's down to Swan Street with all the rest;
The “Regs” took one look, said, ”What a shower of shit”
“How the hell are we gonna train these gits.”

We're all put on buses, off to “Pucka” we go,
They give us a feed, then outside we're on show.
They're hollerin and roarin, trying to boss us around,
We're laughin and jokin sayin' ”Git stuffed ya clowns.”
A quick haircut, then down to the store,
The bloody boots are from the second world war,
And what size you are doesn't matter a bit,
“You'll wear what I give ya, ya bloody little shit."

Training comes easy, discipline not so,
But I damn soon learn that there's a line to toe.
Finished recruit, then off to Queensland for more,
We're finally learning to be soldiers I'm sure.
There's rumours flying round that there's gonna be a scrap.

Cyprus, Vietnam everywhere on the map.
But the odds on Vietnam get stronger each day,
5RAR's being formed down Holsworthy way.
I want to be part of it, with all that I feel,
We're told Training's over, now it's for real.

Home for leave and loved one's tears,
Then back to Sydney and the start of fears.
Will I hold up, will I be strong?
Please don't let me do anything wrong,
We're soldiers now and there's tradition to uphold,
There's things that we've learned, no more need to be told
We're finally away, we're off to war,
Saigon, Vung Tau it's on for sure.

First operation and we've lost a man
And reality hits home in this place Vietnam.
We could be next and we've still got a year,
This thing chewing my guts, is it really fear?
Contacts come, enemy bodies and blood,
It grows until it seems like a flood.
Emotions so high, will I ever come down?
Then, although it seemed long, our time comes around.
We've made it and it's home we're bound for,
Then the “Vung Tau Ferry” pulls into our shore.

Homecoming was great but I can't understand,
As this war in my head finally gets out of hand.
See, when I came home from the Vietnam war,
I was happy to survive, didn't want any more,
A few physical scars, but my body intact,
I didn't know then that this was far from fact.
I wanted to fit into a world I'd once known,
But things had changed and I felt so alone,
For the mates I had served with, were scattered far and wide
So with no-one to talk to, things started to slide.

With a sense of despair, I almost went back,
To that life in the Army, where I'd be kept on track,
But the fears of loved ones about a second tour,
Convinced me, I'd done my bit and more.
The war stayed with me, both day and night,
And I tried to change with all my might,
But I wasn't winning and there were easier ways,
And the drinking took over and filled my days.

The oblivion at night seemed a welcome relief,
From the memories that sneaked in like a thief,
And also a relief from the protesters cries,
Of “murderer, baby killer” and all the lies.
So, what do you see, when you see me?
A Vietnam veteran with P.T.S.D?
Or do you see me as outwardly calm,
While I'm seething inside from wars great harm.

Do you see me wake, shaking with fright,
From nightmares ever present, almost every night.
Do you see the anger from a task left undone,
Because politicians said the war couldn't be won.
Do you see the sorrow, do you see the shame,
From deeds that were done, in wars name.
Do you see the pain from principles lost,
From being trained to kill, at whatever the cost.

Do you see me now, all confidence gone,
From living in fear for twelve months long,
And the battle still rages though I'm constantly spurned,
By bureaucrats who deny me a pension well earned.
So when you see me, will you heed my plea?
Just in case I talk about Vietnam and me,
Will you listen and HEAR, will you look and SEE,
For I'm a Vietnam veteran struggling with P.T.S.D

 © K. J. Maynard 2001

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