"Tich" Tomas was born at Nannup Western Australia on 6 January 1945 and later
educated at Cundinup (1950), Nannup Catholic School (1951-56), Nannup State
School (1957-59), Harvey Agricultural High School (1960-61) and was a sheep and
dairy farmer prior to being conscripted for National Service 30 June 1965.
According to his brother Frank the nickname 'Tich' is a
contraction (and Australianisation) of the Croatian word "Chicha" meaning
"little old man". This nickname was bestowed upon him by one of his father's
mates when Tich was very young, presumably because he behaved in a way a lot
older than his years.
Tich was the youngest of six children with 2 older
sisters...(Olga, Mary) and 3 older brothers (Michael, Frank and Brian) and an
active member of the Junior Farmers Club, the local fire brigade and
participated in recreational social events which he enjoyed just as much as he
did fabricating farm machinery and translating theory to practise. He was a
non-smoker and non-drinker but never a wowser and was a very popular figure
around the Nannup district.
After completing his basic National Service training
Tich was posted to 9 Platoon Charlie Company 5 RAR where he quickly demonstrated
a high level of soldierly qualities and a preference for carrying and operating
the M60 Machine Gun. His leadership qualities were soon recognised and he was
promoted to Lance Corporal and 2IC of the section before leaving Australia.
'Tic'SWs' quiet but jovial manner coupled with his leadership skills and
practical approach to any problem made him a popular member of the platoon and
indeed the entire company.
Sadly on 8 July 1966, twenty one year old Lance Corporal
Marinko 'Tich' Tomas was hit by shrapnel while on a patrol on Nui Nghe Hill
during Operation Sydney One and that day became the first national serviceman
from Western Australia to be killed in the Vietnam War.