B Coy 2nd Tour
May 1969 I volunteered to be one of three guys
from our platoon to join a MATT team (Military
Advisory Training Team). It was the only time I
ever volunteered for anything in the Army ...
sometimes you win!
The three of us were housed in an ARVN (Army
Republic Viet Nam) compound with our own wooden
hut which was a hell of a lot better than the
accommodation had by the ARVN soldiers.
The compound housed their families as well as
chooks, ducks and pigs. They joined us for
breakfast each morning and always brought along
their rice wine. They mixed this with coke as a
'starter' for the day. What they didn't drink
was poured into the fuel tanks of their bikes
... so pretty powerful stuff.
taught them to strip weapons whilst blindfolded
and took them on ambush drills every
couple of nights. The woman in the compound who
washed my Jungle greens in exchange for rations
for her kids, would tell me to be careful, as
some of the blokes we took out on drill were
sympathetic to the VC. This same woman assured
me that the compound would never be mortared.
Within the compound was a makeshift device that
had phosphorous in tin cans, and could be spun
in a circular motion to identify the location of
the compound. According to this woman, it was
protection from being mortared. She also claimed
to have a son in the ARVN and another with the
NVA up North. Two bob each way, who knows ...
nothing would have surprised me it was a crazy
of us (Aussies), was always on sentry of a night
on these ambush drills. I was sure that at any
sign of rain they would have headed back to the
compound. They loved to play cards and I recall
a guy chasing a woman around the compound,
blasting away with his M16 over a gambling
dispute; kids and chooks running all over the
place! The kids were a delight and we shared our
rations and played games with them.
a week or so, one of the other guys and myself
decided to give ourselves a few days unofficial
leave. We took a couple of cartons of Aussie
beer and I carried enough ammo for the two M16s.
We 'requested' a lift to a location at the
seaside 8 -10 kilometres away that the ARVN had
told us about. We paid the guy a few bucks for
the ride and ended up with some Yanks housed in
a French Villa. (That's a picture of it below).
Three days of living the high life; for us the
war had stopped. When our money ran out the
Yanks drove us back to the compound in their
In telling this yarn to our CO, Lt. Col
'Genghis' Khan a couple of years ago, he said,
"I often wondered what some of you blokes got up
ONCE WE WERE SOLDIERS |