Geoff Hazel - A change of career
Well, I joined the Army in '65 as a 17-year-old. Yeah, after a little argument with my stepfather at the time over a girl. She was 23 and he didn't think I was old enough for her. But anyhow, I did infantry training, went to Three Battalion. And eventually ... Well, we did a few other things in Australia, obviously. But then eventually went to Vietnam for the '67/68 tour. We went through Coral–Balmoral, the Tet Offensive in Baria, Operation Pinnaroo in the mountains and a few others.
They suggested that good corporals would go to Kapooka when they came home, was, "You'll be promoted to sergeant." So, I put me hand up to go to Kapooka. And went there as an instructor. Actually, loved the job, but didn't like the town because the town didn't like us. And I put in to go back to Vietnam as a reinforcement. But then I did the first damage to the knee, so that got put off. And then, I'd been there 18 months and got called down to the adjutant's office and said, "Well, here's your promotion to sergeant." And I thought, "Terrific." And then, just before I signed it, she said, "But before we do that, here's your transfer to the training team. They want you to go to them." So, I signed that. Went over and did 12 months as part of the Australian Army Training Team, which was brilliant.
Yeah, probably saw more in that 12 months as far as action went, and there was a lot of action in the first tour. But saw it from a different perspective. When I came home the first time, the only Vietnamese I wanted to see were when I had them in me sights. When you live with them, work with them, got a whole different attitude. So, I think that was good for me, that second tour, really was good. And when you talk to people since then, it was good. And when I came home, I was drill ... Well, I got promoted to sergeant, it was backdated to when the original one was. So, a lot of back pay came through. But I was at Duntroon acting within the infantry sergeant's position in the drill section, because the one that was there was off on medical leave and not supposed to come back.
Went to work one day, and there he was. And the RSM said, "Well, you're going to Wagga." I said, "Who said that?" He said, "The Director of Infantry." "Who's that?" "Colonel Howard." "You mean Harry?" And the person said, "You know the Colonel?" I said, "Yeah, I've been working within six feet of him for nearly 12 months." So, went and saw Harry, and he was the one who told me. He said, "Look, now is the time to go." This was '72. He said, "The end of the year, the Army's going to be cut to pieces. You got somewhere else to go, we won't stop you." So, I left his place and went out to police recruiting, ACT Police recruiting, because where could you be transferred?