Uncle Rob Bryant is a Gumbaynggir man from the north coast of NSW who also partly grew up in Sydney. This interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women Who Served Their Country’ project. Rob joined the Royal Australian Air Force in in 1967 and was posted to Vietnam in 1970. In the excerpt below he recalls the period of his enlistment and his regular attendance at ANZAC Day marches.
67, I joined the Royal Australian Air Force [RAAF]. Eventually I was an airframe mechanic and so I was working then on Iroquois helicopters at 5 Squadron. 5 Squadron was the training squadron, really, for those who were being posted to Vietnam. April ’70 I was posted then to 9 Squadron, Vung Tau, in Vietnam. Whilst in Vung Tau there was another Aboriginal airframe fitter, he was with 35 Squadron; there was also another Aboriginal, he was a gunner with 9 Squadron. So all in all there were three Aboriginals that were members of the Royal Australian Air Force in Vung Tau when I was there. From 9 Squadron I was posted to 36 Squadron, which was the A-model Hercs [Hercules military transport aircraft]. So I went from the little choppers to the big Hercs and so I was out at Richmond then until I finished my six years’ enlistment. 2006 I was invited to go down for the Coloured Diggers’ March in Redfern and I’ve attended all the Coloured Diggers’ Marches in Sydney since; I march in the city with RAAF Vietnam, and then I catch the train or a bus back to Redfern and I march then with the Coloured Diggers’ March.