Des Blazely has found healing through sharing his experiences of the Vietnam War.
Des Blazely has found healing through sharing his experiences of the Vietnam War. Brenda Strong

Lest We Forget: War veterans come home changed people

EACH and every service man and woman agrees - you return home from conflict a changed person.

Des Blazely was 21 when he returned to normal life. The Vietnam veteran counts himself among the lucky ones.

"I felt sorry for the ones that were discharged without any sort of resettlement process; a lot of them are struggling even now," he said.

"I have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder but I am lucky."

An infantryman serving in the tropical jungles of Vietnam, Mr Blazely's duties ranged from machine gunner to being part of the anti-tank tracker platoon.

His 21st birthday was spent in the throes of war.

"Especially in the infantry, your life depends on the bloke next to you," he said.

"We did come home changed people. My sense of values changed and I became more callous."

Next week on Anzac Day, Mr Blazely will mark the day with men who fought beside him.

"It's a reflection for me, a bit like a funeral," he said.

"Every year I spend the day with mates I served with. It's also a chance to catch up."

A few years ago, Mr Blazely prioritised a return trip to the country that took away his innocence 45 years ago.

"Going back to Vietnam was very beneficial for me," he said.

"It was good closure. The knots I had in my stomach for all of these years disappeared."

Mr Blazely recognises the inherent value of sharing his stories with younger generations.

"War is completely different today. You don't see the media coverage we had in Vietnam," he said.

"I'm still very proud that Australia has never had to fight a war on our own shore."

Anzac Day services:

  • Boyne Is: Dawn service, cenotaph, Stirling Park, Boyne Island, 8.30am.
  • Gladstone: Gather at the Valley car park at 5am. Another parade and service, Gladstone Regional Council office at 10.
  • Turkey Beach: Dawn service, beachfront, 5.30am, march, 9am from Turkey Beach fire brigade.
  • Calliope: March, 10.45am, from Bunting Park.
  • Agnes Water: Dawn service, 6am, Agnes Water Cenotaph. Morning service, 9.45am, Agnes Water Tavern.
  • Bororen: Dawn service, 6am, Bororen Memorial Park Cenotaph.
  • Mt Larcom: Service, Mt Larcom and District Armed Services Centre, 10.30am.
  • Rosedale: Dawn service, 5.30am, Memorial Hall, James St, march, 5.45am ceremony. Gunfire breakfast to follow at Memorial Hall.


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