Ashley (Pepe) Younie continues his story – SVN: I’M NOT A BATMAN, I’M A RIFLEMAN
My 19th birthday came & went without too much fanfare and after about 10 weeks of doing guard duty, range patrol piquets, TOETs (hated them) at reinforcement wing, I was given five days pre-embarkation leave and was on my way courtesy of Qantas for an all-expenses 12- month tour of Vietnam.
Our first stop was Ton San Nhut (Saigon Airport) where I nearly died from the heat. We were loaded into trucks and taken to the Australian Reinforcement Unit in Nui Dat for three weeks’ acclimatisation. On Day Three of my tour of duty I was told to report to the Command Post (CP) for a midnight to 0200 radio piquet. I died in the bum. SHIT. I wished I’d paid more attention to the lesson on the phonetic alphabet back in Ingleburn. I had grid references, Alpha Bravo’s coming out of my arse but I got through the agonising two hours with the aid of a corporal who must have thought “bloody hell, what have we got here?”
Week Two saw us on our first patrol. The seco who’d assisted me in the CP remembered me and told me to stay with him. OH YES, he could see potential. I thought, ‘You beauty, here we go. He will be where the action is and so will I.’ Just as I was giving myself a pat on the back, he said to me, “Every time we pull up, I’ll go forward and check on the men. You get the brew on.
“WHAT?” I spluttered. He looked past my bewilderment and said, “White and two – not too strong.”
On Day 3 of the patrol we came to a halt and as usual the corporal went forward. My morale at that stage was as low as it could go so I really wasn’t looking for hand signals. I got the hexy fired up for his brew when all of a sudden he came thundering back, demanding, “Jesus Christ, what are you doing?”
I replied with brow raised, “Getting you your coffee.” He informed me that we had enemy movement to our front and with that I upended the mug of water onto the Hexamine block and sent up a smoke signal that could be seen on the moon.
After my three weeks there he was probably glad to see the back end of me. I was posted to 8 RAR (Grey Eight) as a reinforcement. I must have improved my grunt skills as the tour went on ’cause I got home in one piece.