Telling the history of Australians serving in our defence forces through our veterans’ experiences.
Wayne Brown (Australian Army), National Serviceman
Wayne Brown was called up for National Service and went to Vietnam as a medic. He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery.
2 min 16 sec
Department of Veterans' Affairs
More than 15,000 Australian conscripts served in Vietnam. Over 200 were killed.
When Wayne Brown was called up, he had to leave his wife and child and serve as a company medic.
"She was very teary saying, you know, 'You promised you'd never leave me.' and all this. And I said, 'Well it's sort of out of my hands dear. But that's the way it is and we've got two years of this, we'd better make the most of it. I'll send money home, and I'll do haircuts and you've got the house and the car - see how we go.' But it was traumatic. Yeah.
The medical kit had syrettes of morphine. I had tubes of anti-fungal cream, vials of antibiotic powders and syringes and needles, scalpels; just about everything I could think of that I would need in the field and I probably carried far too much.
A medic's job is to patch 'em up when they're wounded, not to hang back. And to get in and do it even though you're scared, pretty scared; you're more scared I think of not going in and your mates thinking you know, you haven't got the spine to do it than actually getting up on your haunches, ducking your head down and getting in there."
Wayne was awarded the Military Medal for bravery.
"The citation read that Corporal Brown moved forward from a relatively safe position, to where the wounded were and the area was being swept by continuous machine gun, rocket and small arms fire, he was blown to the ground by a rocket burst and continued to move forward, to rescue the wounded."
Finally, Wayne returned to Australia. But it was not the homecoming he expected.
"On the early plane to Adelaide, got off the plane, there's no one there to meet me. Hmm they have obviously got the wrong time, because I had rung the night before saying, 'I will be home in the morning.'
So I went home to our house and ah, there was only one knife, fork and spoon and one pillow and one set of sheets and one blanket. And then I found out she'd sort of gone away with another fellow and you know, moved interstate and I thought, 'Oh, right oh'."
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