Veterans reunite to mark 50-year milestone
CAMERADERIE forged in deadly circumstances has lasted half a century for the men who survived the perils of the Vietnam War and its lasting effects on civilian life.
The bond shared by veterans of the HQ 1st ATF Company was on display in Caloundra at the weekend as they came from around Australia for their biennial reunion.
They have had barbecues, tours of the hinterland and a commemoration dinner since the reunion began on Thursday.
It has been a far cry from the time served at their Nui Dat base in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Aroona resident Don Aldous served in the company's infantry platoon between July 1968 and June 1969.
He was 20-years-old and working in his father's butchery at Landsborough when his number came up from national service.
"It is the only lottery I've ever won in my life," Mr Aldous joked.
He made some good mates with his fellow conscripts during training.
"You were all doing it tough together."
His roles in Vietnam included conducting ambushes and reconnaissance.
He said his platoon came into enemy contact on about half of their missions.
Mr Aldous carried mental wounds back to Australia but said he managed his post traumatic stress disorder by keeping busy.
He ran four butcher shops and an abattoir on the Coast but has since sold the businesses.
Family support and reunions with old comrades have also helped.
"It is just meeting up and talking and sharing how we are coping and how we are not coping," he said.
He said the commemoration service held in Caloundra yesterday was an important way to honour those killed in action and those who had passed since returning home.