So I was an army brat, so I moved around a lot as a child. But we were, at that stage, sort of stable in Melbourne. I was doing secondary schooling in Melbourne, and I went basically straight out of high school into the army. I got a scholarship to go to Duntroon in year 11, so my fate was sealed, provided I got the requisite marks and the like. So I was very much focused on getting through HSC and then getting to Duntroon and on into the army.
Well, he'd (father) left school quite young and gone up to Papua New Guinea and in the constabulary up there. His best friend was a kiap in the patrol. So we'd sort of grown up on tales of high adventure up in PNG and the like, and then he was a Vietnam veteran later on, so I'd been in and around him and his mates and hearing their experiences in Vietnam and watched how that had sort of played out with them over the years as well. And my grandfather had been in the army as well. So I was always deeply sort of immersed in army culture and history and I was raring to go.
John Frewen - The long years of peace
When I went to RMC, I was very keen to go to the infantry, had always had my heart set on that. When I graduated, fortunately I went to the infantry. I had asked specifically to go up to Townsville, which was then the rapid deployment brigade or the ready deployment force, I think we were called back then. And I was then very focused on serving in those units up there. I served in 1RAR for a number of rotations. I also sought to be on the brigade headquarters up there to stay in the brigade because that was the brigade that was going to have the best opportunity to go anywhere if anything happened.
And of course they were what we sort of know as the long years of peace in that sort of post-Vietnam era, where there weren't very many operations at all. I left the battalion after my first stint there as a lieutenant and went down to being an instructor at the school of infantry. And it was in that time that 1RAR went to Somalia. So of course I was desperately trying to get back to the battalion and was devastated when the battalion went off to Somalia and I thought that that might be the one and only chance that I would ever have to go on a deployment. So I then returned up there onto the brigade headquarters. And I ended up in Rwanda off the brigade headquarters.