BLOODY RAIN is based on a story written by Edward Morris King. It was narrated by Chris Bodey and produced by The Shack Studios, Deniliquin.
Edward is from Balranald and this story was inspired by his own experiences during the Vietnam War.
The Passing Out Parade was supported by the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary Arts and Culture Fund and was coordinated by South West Arts in partnership with South West Music Regional Conservatorium and Outback Theatre for Young People.
By Eddie King
I was born in the Crown Street Women’s Hospital in Sydney in 1945, youngest of six children. My mother was a very hard working woman from the Dharug and Darkinjung people of the Hawksbury district north of Sydney and I grew up around the La Perouse and Hawksbury areas.
In 1966 the Vietnam War was on and the Australian Government introduced conscription for all 20 year olds. I had not long moved to Bendigo from Sydney and just finished my apprenticeship in Panel Beating with Provincial Motors, when my birthdate came out of the ballot.
I was soon off to Puckapunyal Army camp to complete 10 weeks of Recruit Training after which on to Enogerra in Brisbane to join 2RAR. After core training in Brisbane I was sent to join 5RAR at Holdsworthy Army Base in Sydney. After almost 12 months of training we were sent to Vietnam.
I was in the first unit of National Servicemen to go to Vietnam. In the 5th battalion I was selected to be the forward scout, which means, out the front, being the eyes and ears of the platoon. It was a very stressful place to be and even though we lost a few soldiers it was nothing to do with my position. I felt the pressure of never knowing what lies ahead, having many lives relying on me, as well as always on my mind the thought that this could be my last day. We were involved in and saw a lot of action.
Three of us were recommended for a bravery award which we didn’t get and I don’t think we deserved it as we only did our duty. I saw things that will stay with me forever.
My mother was a worrier and wrote every week asking what I was doing. I didn’t want her to be too concerned so I always said I was just in camp. She wrote back that I couldn’t be in camp all the time!! There was a lot of media coverage in Australia at the time, which, I think didn’t help.
We did get a bit of R & R and I used to go into Vungh Tah but there were several concerts put on by the Australian Government.
On the 18th August 1966 our regiment was being treated to a Col Joye and Little Patti Concert. Wow! None of us had ever seen a mini-skirt until then.
The night before the concert the Viet Cong had fired 100 mortars on Nui Dat so there was a lot of battle noises going on in the background. Every now and then Little Patti missed couple of words when the BOOM BOOM of guns went off in the jungle so the concert was broken up and a patrol from the 5th R.A. R. was sent off to see what was happening. That was the Battle of Long Tan and 17 of our boys didn’t come back. We had a Memorial Service and it was heartbreaking to lose so many 20 year olds in someone else’s war.
Towards the end of my tour I was in an APC (armed personnel carrier) which is similar to a small tank, with ten other soldiers when we hit a roadside bomb which went through the double floor of the APC. Most of us were hurt but my head and neck took most of the impact.
One of my mates was on an APC which hit a bomb and tipped over on top of him. I promised him that I would keep in touch with his family and I still do.
I was Medi-vacced back to Australia to the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and after operations and treatment sent back to Bendigo where I finished my last three months at Fortuna Mapping Division.
Gee, it was great to be back home again with family and friends. Although most nights when I tried to sleep I was back in Vietnam reliving everything over again.
The nightmares have mostly gone now. I can see things differently when I look back on it all.
My legacy from Vietnam is deafness and ongoing ear, nose and throat problems but I count my blessings everyday and thank God I returned to have the family, grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) that I enjoy today.