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These men gave their lives without a second thought for themselves, so that Australia would remain free.


Caption: an allied C130 Hercules air drop during the Vietnam War.

Between 1965 and 1969 I worked at the Air Movements Section at RAAF Base Richmond.

We had two small teams, one worked in the hangar doing the heavy lifting, loading and unloading pallets that departed and arrived on C130 Hercules aircraft from a number of different routes. One such route, of course, was the Vietnam route.

I was a "shiny arse" who worked in the Air Movements Office, my job being to oversee the loading, prepare the weight and balance sheets for aircraft captains to sign - and to ensure the load was appropriately balanced, with the help of a very interesting tubular slide rule.

We always ensured that some non-priority cargo fitted onto each flight because it consisted of Christmas cakes, presents and other things for the troops fighting in Vietnam. We sent what we could, but there was always a backlog because priority cargo was plentiful. But it still pissed us off that we couldn't do more..

We were always saddened when a Herc returned with an aluminium casket containing the body of one of our brave men who had given their lives for what was a very unpopular war. Although we never knew who the returned deceased was, it always affected our morale. We felt for the family and the young man who had died.

Shortly after 18 August 1966 our Hercs began to return to RAAF Richmond with a total of 18 caskets, a result of our losses in what became known as the Battle of Long Tan. In our safe haven, far away from the dangers of combat, every person was overcome with a deep sense of loss at the deaths of our unknown warriors.

These men gave their lives without a second thought for themselves, so that Australia would remain free.

We were proud that our job enabled them to receive supplies with which to fight, personal goods to keep in touch with their loved ones. But we were well aware that our efforts, as good as they might be, fell short of the heavy lifting they had done.

These men are forever in our thoughts and every year when we attend the ANZAC Day parades, we think of them and their sacrifice and inwardly thank them.

Lest We Forget

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