AS the Vietnam Day of Remembrance for 18 August approaches, News Of The Area took the opportunity to focus on a Medowie Vietnam Veteran.
In 1968, a then seventeen-and-a-half year old Brian Boughton prepared to leave home and head to Kapooka for Army training.
Brian left for Kapooka, completed his initial training, and then moved to Ingleburn in Sydney to complete his infantry training, and to await his nineteenth birthday – the age required for him to leave for Vietnam to join his comrades.
Prior to his departure, he met with friends at a Maitland hotel for dinner.
A stranger at a nearby table, upon hearing about this young man’s intention to defend his country in Vietnam, stood and approached their table, spitting on the young Brian and giving his opinion of his intent to fight in the war.
In October 1969, Brian left for Vietnam to join the 5th Battalion, sent to replace their casualties.
Brian told News Of The Area, “It was a difficult role to jump in to – these guys had been training and working and fighting together, only to lose some mates, and have us come in and replace them.”
Brian spent 12 months in Vietnam, returning in October 1970 to the Holsworthy Army Base in Sydney.
When News Of The Area asked for Brian’s thoughts on how the returned servicemen of the Vietnam war were treated, and how they should be now remembered, he reflected, “People should remember because even though the war was politically motivated and overshadowed by the hype at the time, the people who went, and served, essentially went just for the same reason as any soldier from the past.”
“The actions that they fought in were no less traumatic than any other soldiers and they went with the best interests of Australia at heart and performed for their country as well as any other soldier, in any other conflict,” Brian said.
The Vietnam Veterans were not treated the same as the soldiers in wars before them, and their welcome home was far less than what they deserved.
It was not until 1987 that the official ‘welcome home parade’ was held in Sydney.
Brian remembers attending, and told News Of The Area, “It was healing in a way. A positive event with no protests.”
Brian served nearly 36 years in the Army, and held many titles and roles of distinguish.
He told News Of The Area, “Being able to stay in the Army and attach positive memories to my time there, instead of only the bloodshed of war, helped my recovery. I was able to add some wonderful experiences.”
In 2001, he was selected by the then Lieutenant General Cosgrove to be his Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army – the most senior enlisted appointment within the Army.
He served in this role for three years, before retiring in 2004.
Brian is now the East Maitland RSL Sub Branch Vice President, President of Hunter Valley District Council of RSL sub branches and the Chief Marshall of the Sydney Anzac Day march.
Brian is happily married and has two sons – one who served with the Army, and one who is a Police Officer.
Unbeknownst to Brian, one of his sons, Justin Boughton, told News Of The Area, “My brother and I would have to go a long way to find better parents. I am so proud of my father, and all he has done for our country, and our family. He is an amazing man.”
By Rachael VAUGHAN