SPEECH BY PETER SCHUMAN AT THE DELTA COY 4RAR/NZ (ANZAC) BATTALION
MEMORIAL SERVICE AT TWEED HEADS - WEDNESDAY/21st SEPTEMBER 2005
(Reprinted by Garry Heskett for the 4RAR Assoc NSW Website with permission from the Author)
"Soldiers of D Company 4th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, distinguished guests and friends. To those of you that I have never met, and to those that I am meeting again after 34 years - Good Morning.
My name is Peter SCHUMAN and at the time we all soldiered under the D Coy Banner. I was the Company Second In Command, mainly concerned with the Provisions of Food, Munitions, Medical and Fire Support. We lived, trained, sweated and swore together for two years. As a 30 year old surrounded by mostly 19 year olds - I sweated and swore a little more than most.
Today I would like you and your loved ones to take a journey back in time, we will share a lot of fond memories, a few sad ones - but mostly memories of places and events that shaped the minds of young National Servicemen and crusty old Regulars.
Some of you will hear me speak in a strange language at times. It is a language that soldiers spoke to communicate - Danger, Encouragement and Direction. As best I can I will endeavour to make our journey civilian friendly.
Well how does this story start? For most of us December 1969 is as good kick off point as any for it was then that the 4th Battalion moved to Townsville. The charter was to raise and train a Headquarters, Three Rifle Companies, a Support Company and an Administrative Company for Active Service in South Vietnam. Today we will concentrate on one of those Rifle Companies, DELTA. A Rifle Company cannot fight alone and we acknowledge and pay pour respects to the Gunners of 104 Field Battery, A Squadron 3 Cavalry Regiment, 161 Independent Reconnaissance Flight, C Squadron 1 Armoured Regiment, I Field Squadron, Royal Australian Engineers and 9 Helicopter Squadron RAAF plus US Army and Air Force elements.
We moved to Townsville in dribs and drabs, in formed drafts or as individuals and started what seemed like and endless round of Training, Lectures, Briefings, Administrations, Make and Mend, High Range, Mt Spec, more Administration, Mt Stewart Rifle Range, the 25metre Range, Guards, Duty Week, Q Issues, Medicals, more Training, Rain, Dust, Flies, Town, Lowths Hotel, Townsville Police, no peace, no place to hide, part of a team, part of a big fighting machine.
We identify things by Sound, New Sounds, Helicopters, SLRs, M16s, 105mm Field Guns Radios - - - 41, 42, 43, Radio Check Over, Squelch, Lock stat, Sitrep, Over, Over. We identified by Smell, Diesel Fumes, Amoured Personnel Carriers, Wind, Rain, Rifle Oil and Mossie Repellant. We identify by Touch, Sand Bags, Barbed Wire, Claymores and Mother Earth.
Sound, Smell and Touch are starting to merge, the taste of Paludrine, Water Purifying Tablets, Cordite, Manouevre, Patrolling, Grid Search, Contact, Wait Out. Silence. Stand Too, Stand Down. Shouting, Directing Staff, Water Tower, Ropes, Rain, Canungra, Cold Rain at Wiangaree, Battle Ridge, Shower, BBQ. We are now trained for war.
?Train hard - Fight easy - goes the old Army maxim. Well we trained hard and we had to fight hard for the enemy soldiers in Phouc Tuy Province, D445 Local Force Battalion, the Chau Duc, 33 North Vietnamese Army Regiment and 274 Viet Cong Regiment had learnt their lesson well and had honed their fighting skills over a long period. As the Roman Army Generals said to their Centurions, "You have joined the Army to fight. I will now take you where Soldiers fight. In their case it was Germanica or Gaul, in ours - Vietnam.
On the 30th of April 1971, a proud, tall, 4RAR marched through Townsville and into History courtesy of Qantas 707 chariots that flew the Advance Party to War that same afternoon. Farewell Townsville, Hello Vietnam. On 13 May the troop carrier HMAS Sydney embarked 4RAR Main at Townville and disembarked via Chinook Helicopters from Vung Tau to Nui Dat on the 23rd May 1971. The Uc du lois have arrived, let the battle commence.
Tent Lines, Sand Bags, Rubber Trees, Mud, Red Dust, Rain, Heat and Sweat. The constant whoop, whoop, whoop of Helicopters, the clanking of Armoured vehicles, the dull thud of 105mm Artillery impacting somewhere day and night were constant reminders that this was for real.
The enemy, the VC, the Charlie was out there doing his best to destroy the infrastructure of the Government of South Vietnam by blowing bridges, killing officials, attacking Government troops and outposts, killing civilians and extorting taxes from local villages and farmers. We were going to help put a stop to this conduct.
There is thought process that soldier have to develop and apply, when one moves into a strange unfamiliar environment, in our case the jungle, the battlefield, there is apprehension fear and courage. Two of these three feelings will usually prevail. If the wrong ones prevail, that is apprehension and fear; there is a good chance you will be killed. If the right ones prevail, apprehension and courage there is a good chance you will survive. Soldiering was starting to become very complex. Our first tentative steps into the badlands were going to take all the skills we possessed.
Paludrine Parade, Mail Parade, Budweiser, Schlitz, Gold Cans, Green Cans, Blue Cans, Goffas, Chesterfields, Lucky Strike, Camel, Winston, Salem, Smoke, Smoke, Throw Smoke, Bushranger 06 I see Yellow Over, Dust-off 32 Throw Smoke, This is a Tango 4 Throw Smoke. Silence.
Back to the Dat. Debrief, Shower, Refit, Eat, Ham and Lima Beans, tinned this tinned that, time for the boozer. Duty Platoon to night defensive positions, Movies, Generators, First Light, Dawn. This is Armed Forces radio Vietnam. The time is 0745 and this is Radio Australia, first the news.
Briefing at 0900 Location, Company Headquarters. Call Sign 4 is to. 41, 42, 43 are to. Operations again, and again and again. Soui Ca, Nui Te Vis, Binh Ba Rubber, Long Hoa, Route 2, Luscombe Field, Bunkers, RPGs, Machine Guns, 105 Shells, Drop 100, AK47s, Aircraft, Noise, Tanks, Silence.
Vung Tau, Hospital, Wounded, Bandages, Wheel Chairs, Smiles, Laughter, Tired eyes, Dong, P, Ba Beer, Military Payment Certificates, Civvies, The Flags, Back Beach, Surf, Sand, Nuc Mam, Chau Om, Chau Co.
Back to the Dat. Boots GP, Shirt Olive Green, Trousers Olive Green, more bloody operations, more bloody patrolling. SAS Hill, a new home with a view. Must be near the end of our Tour soon. D Company is to defend the 1st Australian Logistic Support Group Base at Vung Tau whilst Logistics elements withdraw to Australia. Duration of Task 3 months. Farewell fellow Comrades of the 4th, say hello to Townsville for us.
Christmas Day and the Swimming Carnival were fun days. Loading Ships was less fun and protecting a huge Logistics Base was minimal fun for we were Jungle Fighters. As it came to pass our task was achieved, and on the 12th March 1972, the Guns fell silent, the stench of mud and sweat was washed from our bodies and clothes, and the smell of Vietnam expunged from our nostrils. For some of us the sounds also stopped. For others, the war continues like the re run of an old movie, over and over. When asked when you were in Vietnam? Some will truthfully answer - I was there last night.
Our Tour of Duty was an experience that changed all of us. Only our nearest and dearest loved ones know the true extent of those changes - May they have the strength and Courage to continue with us for the remainder of life?s journey?
To all of you I wish you Prosperity and Good Health for the future. Keep your chin up, your shoulders back and show the same grit and determination to life that was your trademark so many years ago.
May God bless you all?
It was a privilege to serve with you my Brotherhood of Warriors."
21 September 2005.
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