Geoff Hazel - Comparative loss

Running time
1 min 55 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


The UN police job, the mission statement was to advise the Indonesian police, and protect the ballot boxes. That was our job. Now, I stretched both. If I didn't know what was going on, how could I give advice? So I could send people out to investigate different things that were reported to us. If we didn't protect the ballot process, how could we protect the ballot boxes?

And well, the first person I met and sat down and talked to, was the local T and I battalion commander. And basically his main theme early in that conversation was, I'm wearing all my ribbons, because the army guys that helped us with our training said, "One thing with the Indonesians, make sure you wear your ribbons. They know what every one of them means. And make sure as a senior officer, you look good each day." So I did, always. And he is really inquisitive. "Are you really a police officer or are you a soldier that's in disguise?"

And eventually, I was able to convince him, and we actually spoke many times later on. It was interesting. One of his conversations and that conversation he said, "You will probably, being a Vietnam veteran, you will understand how I feel if we are forced to pull out of here." He said, "You lost people in Vietnam, and I'm sure you lost friends." And I said, "Yes." And he said, "Well, I've lost friends here. And if we pull out, then I've lost them for nothing." And it was an interesting statement.

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