The Soldier And His Dog

Lance Corporal Marion 'Tich' Tomas

On the 8th of July 1966, 5RAR's 21-year-old Lance Corporal
Marinko 'Tich' Tomas was Killed-in-Action whilst on patrol on Nui Nghe Hill during Operation Sydney 1.
And on that day he became the first national serviceman from Western Australia to be killed in the Vietnam War.
This article was penned by Robert Kearney OAM his section commander and mate on a visit to his family years later.

Tich's Pet Dog 'Shadow"

Twenty five years after "Tich" was killed next to me in Vietnam, (he was the first conscript from Western Australia to be killed) I mustered up the courage to visit his family, very close caring rural people.

As we sat at their large jarra table after dinner one evening, one of Tich's sisters asked, "what time did Tich die, Bob?" I thought for a moment, puzzled at the importance she and the rest of the family seemed to be placing on the precise time of their brothers death.

"I remember we had to clear a landing zone which took us a while, so it was almost dark when the chopper finally got him out. I suppose it was about 6 p.m.".

'Tich' and Bob Kearney

There was total silence as Tich's brothers and sisters looked knowingly at each other. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat for what seemed a long time but was in fact only seconds. Curiously I asked "why is the time important?"

"Well you see Bob, the night Tich was killed, the 8th of July, his dog "Shadow" began to howl. It was something he'd never done before".

"Shadow howled from about 9 p.m. until just after midnight. He sat up on the hill where the bulls roar and his

Bob at Tich's Grave

Bob at Tich's grave

awful, sad howling could be heard all over the farm. We couldn't get him to come back to the house and were all concerned about his unusual behavior, the following morning when the police officers told us about Tich, we forgot about Shadow."

"Shadow went off his food and kept away from us all. His behavior became erratic and within two weeks he disappeared. We never saw him again, neither did anyone from around the neighboring farms or towns."

Robert Kearney OAM

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