Gary McKay is a former Australian Army officer who served as a platoon commander with the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment during the Vietnam War.
In August 1966, 25 young Australian soldiers landed at Jackson’s Strip airport Port Moresby, in the then Territory of Papua and New Guinea, with only a hazy idea of why they were there.
Call Sign VAMPIRE, the inside story of an Australian Field Hospital during the Vietnam War is an insight to the world of medicine at war told with a mix of operational facts, personal accounts from those that served as well as the patients who passed through the doors of the hospital.
6 Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (6 Bn RAR/NZ (ANZAC) arrived in South Vietnam in May 1969 and five days later 5 Platoon was tasked with a platoon standing patrol around 3 kilometres from the base.
In opening, Dr Dapin quipped, to an audience of 30, that his father fought the Korean War from the Sherwood Forest and then from Germany while doing UK national service during the 1950s.
Recognition of the RAN contribution to the Australian involvement in Vietnam between 1965 and 1972 is usually limited to naval gunfire support provided by destroyers with only a passing reference to logistic support by HMAS Sydney.
Unit histories are usually written mainly for members of the unit and their descendants: only a few have lasting historical value.
In the period leading up to Australia’s involvement in Vietnam, the Citizen Military Forces (CMF) [today’s Army Reserve] in Australia was a reasonably strong and viable force, with a mixture of younger soldiers, volunteers and 1950’s National Servicemen, strengthened by a small number of experienced former 2nd AIF, Korea and Malaya veterans.