Memories of the Rli
Chapter 13

Copyright© 2014 by Dreaded

Bush trips and Holidays...

I may give the impression to readers that I was a bit of a slack and social soldier but in many ways I took my job very seriously – I studied hard and got really good pass marks for the courses I did ... My biggest concern from when I was promoted to L/Cpl (E2) was that I would lead and protect the guys with me – I got a bit anal about it at some stages but I think that the guys under me appreciated my style and guidance – One of the results of this was the Boss detaching me all over the country on funny jobs that he knew he could rely on me for ... I always seamed to disappear with half the Troop (Platoon) into some funny situations with not an officer in sight ... This Loose semi detachment sent me to some really nice places and some real shitholes ... I suppose you had to take the good and the bad – We weren't totally mad but damn close to it – CSM was a little worried when the guys appeared in camp leading their pet rocks around on leashes ... I mean, you have to have had one pet rock in your life – didn't you??

I had just had a really stressful bush trip where I had nearly come to blows with my boss, if you can imagine a Sgt and Maj standing nose to nose getting very heated when CSM grabbed me by my shirt and physically dragged me out of the Ops room, sat me down in the mess tent and shoved a stiff Brandy and coke in to my hand – shit I was steaming – To give my Boss his due, a few minutes later he sat down next to me, took the tea (Branty – Brandy & coke) away from me, as he knew I hated the stuff, and shoved a Castle in my hand ... We had a long discussion quietly over a few Castles and he saw my point of view and I realized what pressure he was under when he related to me the events of the previous day – we both agreed in hindsight that I was correct and he was wrong but as a commander you have to make some tough decisions ... The whole argument was about the previous days Fire Force call out – it was a complete lemon as we went through the village the was nothing – in doing a 360 I picked up tracks that started as 2 then after a couple of km's ended up as 6 – they had bombshelled when they heard the choppers and run ... I told the Boss on the radio that I was on confirmed tracks and was running on them – he informed me he was moving to another call out but was to stay on tracks as long as possible and that I was to revert to my standard call sign and that PRAW (Police reserve air wing) would be up and relay for me ... I changed channel to Ops frequency and the PRAW guy was right there ... We ran on those tracks for nearly 5 hours and must have covered about 30kms of distance up in to the mountains ... The PRAW guy must have been triangulating me as he we talked as he was always in the distance circling the area – when I asked him if he had any idea of where the hell I was he told me not to worry as he had me pinpointed pretty well ... We were really close behind the Gooks – I had just found a cigarette that was still smoldering – when the boss called and told me he was pulling me out and replacing me with a PATU stick and Tracker Dogs ... I told him that I would be in contact within minutes but he insisted I pulled back and got out of there ... I pulled back down to a flattish DZ and talked the choppers in – I spent a few minutes with the Dog guys, showed them the Spoor and off they went ... The choppers started up and we lifted off and started heading home when all hell broke loose on the ground ... the chopper noise had alerted the Gooks and they ambushed the poor police guys injuring one and killing another ... The choppers turned around and dropped us back above the Gook position and the 4 of us hit those Gooks hard from behind –I was really pissed off ... We loaded the wounded Cop and the poor PATU guy in one chopper and we flew back leaving the poor cops to sort the mess out ... they sent APC's in and saturated the area that night and picked up a few more Gooks but the Cops were not taking prisoners after loosing one of their own ... What pissed me off about the whole scene was that I hadn't been listened to about the info on the ground – "If" is mighty fine in hindsight and there are always questions to be asked and answered – as the Boss pointed out to me, make a decision and stick to it, if is the wrong decision, learn from it and move on ... Fine words of advice that have stayed with me for years...

We went back to camp for R&R and as we were cleaning up I was called in to the Boss's office – O dear here we go again!!!! – He actually asked me to sit down and asked me if I was prepared to volunteer for a 6 to 8 week bush trip ... I gave him a really dirty look but was curious as he had a slight smile on his face ... There was a hook in here some where & my curiosity was aroused ... I had really been under a lot of pressure for some time now, I was the youngest Sgt in the Battalion (not even 20 yet) & I had taken a lot of flak from older NCO's that thought I was not worthy of the promotion – My friend Bob had also been promoted on the same day and he was also taking strain ... We had both had a couple of rough bush trips as we were issued with new Troop Officers and we had spent all our time training them ... I must admit that my Officer was just about as whacked out mind wise as I was – Lt Joe had a wicked sense of humour and from the beginning took a lot of strain off my shoulders ... Unfortunately he was KIA a few years later in a Chopper crash that hurt us all...

Any way back to the Boss – he was sitting with that LOOK ... Shrugging my shoulders I told him that I would take anything on and I and my guys would try our hardest ... It was again a semi detachment and Lt Joe & Sgt Dutch would remain with ½ the guys while the rest of my troop, under me, would be attached to a new Phsy Ops unit in the North ... I was to get my Order package the next day and have a private briefing with the guy that would command us for the next couple of months ... I was told to ask for volunteers and to split our troop and have them on stand by before they disappeared for R&R...

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