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Audio I Was Only 19

Discussion in 'Vietnam War' started by BravoZulu, Apr 16, 2017.


  1. BravoZulu Australia

    BravoZulu Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator TAARB

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    One of my favourite songs of all time, released around when I joined up. It get's aired every ANZAC Day and really hit's home for the Vietnam Vets.

    "I was only 19" (A walk in the light green), by John Schumann
    Mum and Dad and Denny saw the passing out parade at Puckapunyal
    It was a long march from cadets
    The sixth battalion was the next to tour and it was me who drew the card
    We did Canungra and Shoalwater before we left

    And Townsville lined the footpaths as we marched down to the quay
    This clipping from the paper shows us young and strong and clean
    And there's me in me slouch hat with me SLR and greens
    God help me - I was only nineteen

    From Vung Tau riding Chinooks to the dust at Nui Dat
    I'd been in and out of choppers now for months
    And we made our tents a home, V.B. and pinups on the lockers
    And an Asian orange sunset through the scrub

    And can you tell me, doctor, why I still can't get to sleep?
    And night time's just a jungle dark and a barking M.16?
    And what's this rash that comes and goes, can you tell me what it means?
    God help me - I was only nineteen

    A four week operation, when each step can mean your last one on two legs
    It was a war within yourself
    But you wouldn't let your mates down 'til they had you dusted off
    So you closed your eyes and thought about somethin' else

    And then someone yelled out "Contact", and the bloke behind me swore
    We hooked in there for hours, then a God almighty roar
    And Frankie kicked a mine the day that mankind kicked the moon
    God help me - he was goin' home in June

    And I can still see Frankie, drinkin' tinnies in the Grand Hotel
    On a thirty-six hour rec. leave in Vung Tau
    And I can still hear Frankie, lying screaming in the jungle
    'Til the morphine came and killed the bloody row

    And the Anzac legends didn't mention mud and blood and tears
    And the stories that my father told me never seemed quite real
    I caught some pieces in my back that I didn't even feel
    God help me, I was only 19

    And can you tell me, doctor, why I still can't get to sleep?
    Any why the Channel Seven chopper chills me to my feet?
    And what's this rash that comes and goes, can you tell me what it means?
    God help me - I was only 19
     
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  2. BravoZulu Australia

    BravoZulu Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator TAARB

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    And the real story behind the song:
    I was only 19: The real soldier behind the Australian Vietnam veterans' anthem
    Redgum's John Schumann was the right age to fight in Vietnam, but his number didn't come up.
    He never forgot how close he came, and when those who did fight returned, he paid attention to their struggles.
    "They were fundamentally altered," he said.
    "I started to think about what it would be like to come back from a very unpopular war and not be welcomed home."
    Schumann decided to write a song about Australia's involvement in Vietnam, but he didn't write fiction.

    More: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-...he-australian-vietnam-veterans-anthem/8013132
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 28, 2017
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