Vic Simon is from Forster in New South Wales. This interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women Who Served Their Country’ project.
Vic joined the army in 1965, served in Vietnam, and fought in the Battle of Long Tan. He is an active member and office holder in the RSL [Returned Services League]. In the excerpt below he recalls his antecedents who were in the military; and discusses his time in Vietnam.
Well, it was a sort of strange thing when I joined the army. It was sort of like, walking in Sydney, walking down, I think it was York Street, and there was a sign up in a window saying “Join now. Enlist in the army”. And my father and my uncle, they were in the forces, so I think that sort of more or less like persuaded me to go in and enlist, which I did. My uncle unfortunately was a prisoner of war in Changi [Japanese WWII camp in Singapore], he spent all the time over there in Changi, and my father, he was a Rat of Tobruk [soldiers who held Tobruk against the Afrika Corps in WWII]. I think that’s the reason why I signed up to go into the army in the first place. Up around about ten months I was in Vietnam. First off I went over as a reinforcement for 1 Battalion. That was in early 1966 and 1 Battalion was the first battalion over there and then when 1 Battalion came home I wasn’t over there long enough to come home with them. I had to be over there at least three months so when 1 Battalion come home and 6 Battalion come over and relieved them I had to go to 6 Battalion to do the rest of my time, and so I filled out just about the rest of my time with 6 Battalion before I came home medically unfit.