Patrick O'Hara - Reflections on service

Running time
2 min 47 sec

Department of Veterans' Affairs


Firstly, we should never have been there. I firmly believe that. I think of the suffering that we inflicted on those people. One day, one night, you were always waiting for body counts, you know, that's the way things were and in the artillery we never really got any, that we had killed anyone, and one night we were told our gun, the one I was on, had killed 22 Viet Cong. Yes. Whoa. Then a couple of days later we found out they were all women. They were porters, carrying stuff.

So that affected everybody knowing that, everyone calmed down and it wasn't until I became a grand parent and got my own grand kids, it started to bother me. "How many of those women were pregnant? How many never had … ?" But that didn't come until later, but we should never have been there, but it was an exciting experience. It was a good experience. The fact that you had done something different. The heroics of it and the Anzac Day bit I don't relate to at all but just the fact that you had an experience that was different.

But, I still rang up a mate of mine, we were in the reinforcement thing together, and I haven't spoken to him for fifteen years and, he's a bit of a sad figure, but he didn't want to get off the phone, all he wanted to do was talk. I've got blokes who ring up, not many, but who ring me up regularly. So being part of that is important. But I love being involved with kids talking about, once again, you know, going out on Anzac Day and telling stories, not war stories, just stories.

But I get really upset that we haven't learnt from it, that we're still doing this incredible damage to people, to women and to wives and the suffering, how Vietnam, some of the blokes I know, it just destroyed their lives. They're just having a miserable time because of the whole … so mixed feelings. I wouldn't advocate national service. Overall, when I look back, there were some really good times.

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