A Special Tribute To All
Vietnam Veterans

"Welcome Home"

The medals worn by all Vietnam Veterans are shown above. From left to right

The Australian Active Service Medal, with Vietnam Bar issued for any active service outside Australia between 1945 and 1975.
The Vietnam Service Medal, issued to any service member who served in South Vietnam between 1962 and 1972 for any length of time.
The Australian Defence Medal, issued to any member of the Australian Armed Services who completed their term of enlistment, since 1945 to present, or four years service, whichever is the lesser, or they were discharged due to policies of the Australian Defence Services at the time.
The Vietnam Star, issued by the Government of the Republic of South Vietnam to any Allied service man or woman who served in South Vietnam for a period in excess of 180 days, or if they were repatriated sooner due to injuries as a result of active service.

The above National Service Medal was also issued to those who were conscripted for service in the Army during the period 1951 ~ 1972.  Many of these National Servicemen went on active service to South Vietnam.

The Vietnam war was Australia's longest conflict in any single war.  Australia had military personnel in South Vietnam from 1962 ~ 1972.  Sadly those who saw service in South Vietnam were not treated as Returning Service men and women.  They faced  a hostile public who had little appreciation of the actual facts involved.  Every person has the right to form their own opinions, but to find fault with those who returned from active service, is so morally wrong.  It is in reality, because of those people who have served that everyone actually enjoys those rights to their opinions.  It seemed that in those years of protest marches, a very important factor was overlooked by those who directed their anger against Vietnam Veterans.  That anger was misplaced badly, and many Veterans suffer from that rejection up to the present day.

It is politicians who make wars; It is men who fight them.

To All Who Saw Service In Vietnam,
From Australia and our allies.

I salute you, you served with pride and carried that torment directed against you for many years.  It is a right you have earned, hold your head up high, you have served your country well, and nothing can ever take that away from you.  The building of the Vietnam Veterans wall  in Canberra and the Welcome Home parade in 1987 (although 15 years late) did go some way towards healing the pain of the Vietnam Veteran.

I First Read This Poem When It Was Sent To Me During My Years Of Service With The Australian Army (1970 -1975)  I am sure most Vietnam Veterans can identify with it.  See further information about this poem at the bottom. 

Living And Dying

Take a man, put him alone,
Put him 12,000 miles from home,
Empty his heart of all the blood,
Make him live in sweat and mud,
This is the life I have to live,
And why my soul to the devil I give?
You peace boys rest in your easy chair,
But you donít know what itís like over here,
You have a ball, without even trying,
While over here the boys are dying,
You burn your draft card, march at dawn,
Plant your signs on the White House lawn,
You all want to ban the bomb,
Thereís no real war in Vietnam,
Use your drugs, and have your fun,
Then refuse to use a gun,
Thereís nothing else for you to do,
And Iím supposed to die for you?
I hate you til the day I die,
You made me hear my buddy cry,
I saw his leg a bloody shred,
I heard them say “This oneís dead”
Itís a large price he had to pay,
Not to live to see another day,
He had the guts to fight and die,
He paid the price, but what did he buy?
He bought your life by losing his,
But who gives a damn what a soldier gives,
His girl, and his Mom,
But theyíre the only ones.

Written by Joseph H. Bates.

Note :- This poem was originally sent to me with the title "There Is No War In Vietnam", and "Author Unknown".  Since then I have been able to establish the following facts.  The real name of the poem is "Living and Dying" and the Author of this poem was Private First Class Joseph H. Bates who was from Arnold MO.

PFC Joseph H. Bates served in the US Army, and at time of writing was posted to Vietnam where he was wounded 3 separate times, and he was decorated with a Bronze Star.

The poem was sent to his parents who later had it published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch in St. Louis, and then again in the Arnold Journal.

With many thanks to Nancy Bates, the sister of the Author for letting me know the name of the Author and also giving me the correct and original version of this wonderful poem.

I would also like to thank PFC Joseph Bates' daughters Sheree and Jodi, who have let me know of some minor errors in the way I had the poem typed and it now I believe to be as originally written.

I have added some of my own comments about these words.

The controversy over the Vietnam war, and the protesters, who were people often the same age as the young soldiers aroused great resentment among those doing the fighting and the dying.  "Living and Dying" is probably  one of the most remarkable poems to come out of the Vietnam war.  The Author was obviously enraged at the attitudes of those at home attending protest marches, whilst his comrades are fighting and dying.  He has no time for political debate, he was fighting a war.  It is not a political poem, and at no time does the Author state his own views.  He is merely crying for support, and a cry to his fellow man for compassion for the men dying regardless of why.

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