Daryl Bristowe - A short trip and leave

Running time
4 min 8 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


I got on the helicopter, which was a Chinook, you know, the big two, got on and it was American and it was an African-American. I won't say Negro, African-American and he said, "Sit". And I know all the officer ranks, I do have problems with the senior sergeants, you know, cause they have stripes up this way. Then they have things underneath and they have emblems. And he said, "Sit". And he was, he didn't, he wasn't wearing a shirt. He was wearing a flak vest. We should have had flak vests.

And he had a revolver. Normally you see them with the 45 Colt, the Americans that I'd seen, he had the revolver, like a six-shooter like Wyatt Earp, tied down. And on this side it was a cross between a pocketknife and a machete on the other side. And if he'd said to me, "Jump", I would have jumped from the helicopter. He had me frightened. Hell. And I was just sitting there all by myself. They took me to the fire support base, that mortar platoon was commanded by a lieutenant. The armoured personnel carriers had the Sergeant. I never saw the Sergeant until the end of the war.

I was out there a day, and I spent the night in something that was made out of corrugated iron and a hole. And, and what do you call it? Sandbags around it, individual persons hole. And then he said, "Right, we're going, we're going back to Nui Dat". We just left Nui dat. So we went back or the armoured personnels came out and we swapped over. And this is the only, I don't know how it happened, but when I got there, he said, "Right, we're going in RNI". I think it's RNI leave in Vung Tau. Whatever.

And I've only, I'd only been in Vietnam less than a month. And the annoying thing is when I knew I was going out, I went and bought a 35-millimetre Yashica. Course I didn't take it out with me cause I had the little instamatic one, cause it took a lot of photos until it got wet, but oh, and I just spent the money $99 worth buying this camera. So of course, when I'm told I'm going down to the Peter Badcoe club at Vung Tau, everybody's lending me money because we all went to the different bars. I won't say what we got up to there.

But the one that I went to was the Peacock and it was a lovely young lady there. She decided to look after me. Her name was Maylei or something, I went out there, The Peter Badcoe Club was swimming pool, accommodation block, eating block. When I went back in 2001 on the 30th anniversary, the only thing left now, the Peter Badcoe Club is a swimming pool that is slimy and there is ducks living in it amongst hotels. Because when I went back, 9/11 had just taken place and all the Americans were concerned about going anywhere out of America.

So it was only Australians, New Zealanders and French went there and were we spoiled, you know. Like my mate, myself, who'd never been in the army. He, you know, two of us at the one table with about five waiters because they had to keep the waiters employed. But you know, but I was astounded that I went on leave and I'd only been in Viet... People were there six, seven months, never went down to Vung Tau, it's as if someone was guiding me, you know that funny little story later, but I, it was really good.

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