Uncle David Williams is a Bundjalung man from Baryulgil in New South Wales. He joined the Australian Navy in 1965 and was an engineer, diver and submariner. This interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women Who Served Their Country’ project. In this interview he talks about camaraderie in the forces; occupational hazards; and his work with veterans, youth, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In the excerpt below he discusses his reasons for joining up and the places in which he served.
I was in the school cadets when I was at school; a couple of schools I went to, but all my extended family were all army fellas. So national service came along and I know now that Aboriginal people didn’t have to go, but I had a lot of white mates too. So they were getting called up and we didn’t distinguish in those days on paper that you had to be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, just Aussies. So they were getting called up and I thought “Well, I want to join what I like”, which is the navy, and that was in 1965. I just thought that I needed to have a look at the world; I’d rather go around in a boat than have to walk. So it wasn’t too difficult to work it out. I always had fun. Some days were better than others but, no, I enjoyed it. I was fit; I was playing third grade [football] for Balmain in those days and fitness wasn’t a problem. A lot of new mates, and, yes, it was good, plenty of sport and good training. I was in Indonesian Confrontation, Borneo, Malaya, Vietnam and [on] submarines.