Gary Oakley - The smell of Av Gas and protecting the ship

Running time
2 min 1 sec
Date made
Place made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Vietnam, for part of that is you come in really early in the morning and you just see the lights on the hills and you'd see something happening in the background but it was a kind of a weird place because everybody seemed to be on edge. And it smelt of Av Gas.

The whole place smelled of Av Gas because everywhere you looked in the sky, there was a bloody helicopter. They were everywhere, the helicopter war, it was just amazing. We did a bit fair bit of stuff with 9 Squadron, RAAF 9 Squadron because they'd come and they were looking for fresh fruit and stuff like that so we used to cook Anzac biscuits and all that kind of stuff and they would come in and get fresh bread and fly in and out all the time.

So it was busy, busy, busy. Came in early in the morning, flat chat for about five hours just as it started to get dusk you then, if you hadn't finished unloading, you go out, back outside and then you sail up and down until the morning then you come back in and do it again.

The reason for that was for enemy divers, frogman type work. So we always had landing craft patrolling dragging grappling hooks, looking for enemy swimmers. If you're a sentry because we had sentries on board, they gave you an SLR rifle and a magazine and you're, I mean, I’d just turned 17, you had a rifle and a magazine and the magazine was in your pocket and you weren’t allowed to put it in the gun just in case you probably shot yourself.

So, if anything happened, you actually had to phone up the bridge or whoever and say that, "Look, I've seen an enemy swimmer in the water " or whatever, then they would tell you that you could put your magazine in your weapon. So ,it was kinda, it was kind of silly. If something had happened, you had to actually ring up before you could do anything. But it was a really interesting place.

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