HANDY MAN: Ian Lade with his war books and wooden memorabilia he has hand-made since returning from Vietnam.
HANDY MAN: Ian Lade with his war books and wooden memorabilia he has hand-made since returning from Vietnam. Jessica Lamb

Vietnam veteran to service mates

IAN LADE wishes to dedicate his story as a memorial tribute to all the fallen heroes of the 6Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment into which he was conscripted and served.

"To those who fell in the line of duty, those who suffered from PTSD and those who have since passed away from wounds in service in South Vietnam during the 1960s and '70s,” Mr Lade said.

The local man started lifeon a small sugar cane farm west of Proserpine, attended Proserpine State School and High School before leaving to an apprenticeship in the Proserpine sugar mill.

It was on April 30, 1968, just after finishing his apprenticeship, that he received the call to arms.

After training, the grandfather was sent on the second tour to South Vietnam, joining Alpha Company with infantry and driving duties for a one year tour.

"On the arrival at Nui Dat, Phuoc Tuy Province, South Vietnam, our home for the next 12 months, we immediately became an 'Anzac Battalion' because we had two New Zealand infantry companies attached to us,” he said.

"We were then known as, 6 RAR/NZ ANZAC, carrying on the the Anzac spirit of mateship as our forefathers did in all the wars previous to us.”

Mr Lade was attached to the same company from theinfamous Battle of Long Tan, however he arrived after the event but that didn't mean it didn't change him for life.

"My tour of duty with 6Battalion in Vietnam was, as for all soldiers who served as frontline infantry, far from easy on the body and soul,” he said.

"Living on the edge of one's nerves while patrolling silently for many months straight in a hostile jungle sure took its toll on all.

"A contact was sometimes welcomed to break the nervous silence.

"Our time in Alpha Coy was not without incidents, with seven mates being killed and over 64 wounded from war-related wounds.

"We lost two very popular soldiers killed and 24 soldiers wounded from 3 Platoon A Coy, when two horrific mine blasts were detonated on July 21, 1969, just a few minutes after man landed on the moon.”

"This incident is actually what inspired the penning of the song many regard to embody the tragedy of theVietnam War, I Was Only 19.

"These two men lost dead in July, along with five other mates killed in action from within our ranks during our tour, and all the wounded who returned home, has left us, the living, with scars of emotion forever embedded in our memories then and forever more.”


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