17 August 2011

Vietnam veteran Brian Evans returns to Vietnam

FORMER Army private Brian Evans is on his first trip back to Vietnam since the war - a place and time that haunts his life.

Rifleman Brian Evans returns to the battlegrounds as Vietnam Veterans Day approaches.

FORMER Army private Brian Evans is on his first trip back to a place that haunts his adult life.

He first went to Vietnam in 1969, as a Nasho or national serviceman, to fight an unpopular war.

Nashos were young Australians called up for compulsory military service between 1950 and 1972.

More than 200 died on active service in Vietnam and Borneo.

Mr Evans said Vietnam during the war was a frightening place to be.

"I was called up in 1968, at 20-years-old," he said.

"Quite a few of us put our hands up for Vietnam.

"You'll always get young blokes wanting to prove themselves."

Private Evans' "first big fight" was at De Courtney rubber plantation on the border of Phuoc Tuy Province.

"The plantation was lovely deep green and you could see the smoke coming out of it," he said.

"I can remember lying on the edge of the rubber plantation and they dropped a 500-pounder, and everything shook."

Private Evans was a rifleman usually placed at the back of a patrol, the risky position known as "tail-end Charlie".

"I hated it. It scared me," he said. "You'd see shadows, and the trees would move."

He said there was no time to be afraid when contact was made with the enemy, the Viet Cong.

"It's exciting. You do all the training and get ready for it," he said.

"I was called up so I was prepared to do it. If I had my time over, I'd do it again.

"It was only two years (in the Nashos) but it remains so much a big part of my life."

Mr Evans will visit the places he remembers from his time in Vietnam.

The Bundamba war serviceman and his mates will be there on Vietnam Veterans Day this Thursday, August 18.

THE Ipswich and Ipswich Railway sub branches of the RSL, in conjunction with the Ipswich RSL Services Club at North Ipswich, are conducting a ceremony at the new honour stone in the club's Lowry St car park, from 5pm.

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