Tuesday, 20 October 2015

An Opportunity

Famous pic of 5 platoon B coy 7 RAR - courtesy AWM

I've just returned from 7 RAR's Anzac to Adelaide 2015 Reunion.

It was a wonderful event, well-organised; and Adelaide is a great venue, with its Convention Centre, excellent public transport, and at this time of the year, good weather.

During the battalion dinner (which featured a live performance of "I was Only Nineteen" by John Schumann, something that was for me a very pleasant surprise),  Michael O'Brien, the President of the 7 RAR Association, gave a brief address.

During that address he touched on the story of Michael Berrigan, who was a member of 5 Platoon, B Coy in 7 RAR's first tour of duty in Vietnam in 1967/68. This had a particular resonance for me, as 5 Platoon, B Coy, was my sub-unit for the first part of my tour in 1970. 

This report from the Herald Sun covers the story of Michael Berrigan, probably the last Australian to die of wounds from the Vietnam conflict. Whilst he died in 2011 he is still a casualty of the war.

What makes his story tragically different is that his death occurred after a lifetime of suffering for himself and his family.

We've become accustomed to seeing politicians of all stripes attending funerals of diggers killed in recent conflicts. They are honoured by this, and perhaps it provides some solace for the families.

There was an opportunity for Michael Berrigan's sacrifice to be honoured by a political presence at his funeral. Such a presence may have also gone some small way towards atoning for the treatment of Vietnam Veterans prior to 1987. It provided an opportune time shift, in a sense. 

I wonder - was someone/anyone from government present?

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