Wayne Brown's story
Wayne Laurence Brown was born on 6 April 1945 in Adelaide, South Australia. At 17, he applied to join the Royal Australian Navy but didn't pass the vision test.
In 1965, Laurence was called up for National Service Scheme while studying to be a nurse. His draft was deferred for 18 months when he was called to join the Army as a medic. By then, he was a qualified psychiatric and mental deficiency nurse.
At this point in his life, being called up for National Service left Wayne and his family angry. He had to leave his wife and young child. His salary decreased substantially, leaving the family to struggle financially.
Wayne undertook training in Puckapunyal, Victoria, at the School of Army Health, before joining 11 Field Ambulance in Wacol, Brisbane. After 8 months in the Army and several training courses, he was promoted to corporal.
In May 1968, Wayne deployed to South Vietnam. Initially he was one of 3 medics at a Regimental Aid Post. Their role was to treat rashes, cuts and burns and all the accidental injuries that happen around camp. They also patrolled through the nearby villages to help treat locals.
Not long after he arrived in Nui Dat, Wayne was transferred to 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (4 RAR) as a rifle company medic. The harsh jungle environment caused lots of medical issues for soldiers in Vietnam. In the dry season, dust, heat and dehydration were big problems. The lack of access to water caused heatstroke for many soldiers. Then the wet season brought more health problems, such as fungal growths and tropical diseases.
Wayne would often go out on patrol to search for wounded soldiers under enemy fire. He recalls that the fear of being killed or shot was overtaken by the rush of adrenalin when trying to save your mates. He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery when tending to casualties whilst under fire.
Wayne returned to Australia in 1969. He attends regular reunions with other Vietnam veterans. He is forever grateful for the lifelong friendships formed with his former comrades.