John Frewen - A place never heard of

Running time
1 min 56 sec
Department of Veterans' Affairs


I suppose, for people who make a decision to join an organisation like the army, I think many of us are driven in part by the personal challenge. Many of us driven by the history of those that have gone on operations before. There's always a mystique about testing yourself in those types of conditions, whether you can live up to the legacy of those that have gone before. I mean, there's all of that. And for me, there's a great sort of sense of adventure about these sorts of things as well.

I have to say, almost 40 years down the other end, sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for, because sometimes you get far more than you bargained for, and Rwanda was certainly a case of that. But yeah, I know people who serve for sometimes 20 years in the years between Vietnam and when all the operation started and didn't go anywhere and they still feel very doleful about that. But then there's so many of us that have been on so many operations since ...

When I missed on going to Somalia, in my mind, I was conveying to my veteran father, that my career was over and it had all been wasted and I'd never get another chance. And he said to me, he said, "When I was your age, I thought the same thing. And I ended up in a place that I'd never, ever heard of." And I thought for a minute, and I thought, "Vietnam?" He said, "When I was your age in 1967, I had never heard of Vietnam." And so I pondered on that for a second and I said, "Oh, that's a ridiculous story. The world's a much smaller place now. There's no places like that anymore." And six months later I was in Rwanda and I had never heard of Rwanda before.

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