Vietnam memories

Former player, Ian Anderson, is giving a talk about his Viet Nam experiences down here on 28 April.

He was a tall, red-headed second ruck who played with us late 60’s until being conscripted and sent to Viet Nam. I particularly remember him kicking 3 goals for us at Princes Park on Anzac Day 1968 where both sides were goalless at half-time. We won 7.8-1.11. Massive crosswind all day. Also Geoff Blethyn’s debut match.

Also kicked 7 vs Hawthorn at Windy Hill Round 1 of 1968. Hudson kicked 10 for Hawthorn. We won by 12. Beginning of the last quarter, Anderson tapped to Bob Greenwood who drop-kicked it into the crowd beside the Showers Pavilion.

Anderson has lived in Port Fairy for ages, running the Star of the West hotel and subsequently being one of the two or three taxi-drivers in town.

There were 7 VFL players who went to Viet Nam - Wayne Closter of Geelong and six Essendon players - Ian Anderson, Keith Gent, Ian Payne, Lindsay McGie, Greg Perry and Bill Thompson.


Overtly un-random selection, or volunteers?

We over-contributed to all of the wars, it seems.

Not volunteers.

Other clubs’ players…including K Sheedy…stayed in Oz.

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So assuming randomness, with 12 clubs there was a 0.0002% chance of us providing 6 of 7 players.


Wasn’t this back in the day where players were chosen for each team from a within a specific geographic zone? Without knowing how it worked, that’d be my guess as to how Essendon was heavily over represented, but it’s really only a wild guess.

Wasn’t Vietnam conscription based on birth dates (and then on whether you came up with an excuse to get out of it)?

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This is correct conscription based on birth dates. I was a Regular boy joined the Army at 17 years. In Vietnam at the age of 20.

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You were in the birthday lottery, done 6 months at a time, in the half-year you turned 20. I was in the last one and my day didn’t come up.

Incidentally the words of the song He Was Only Nineteen are wrong. You were drafted at 20, for 2-year stints, and it was a year before you went to Viet Nam.


He Was Only Nineteen, contrary to popular belief, the subject of this song is a volunteer regular member of the Australian Army, and not a conscript.

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Ummm, …

And the voting age was subsequently lowered from 21 to 18 years

I thought the lyrics said he was conscripted.

Interpret “The sixth battalion was the next to tour and it was me who drew the card”.

A tangentional connection - Hird’s maternal grandfather served in Vietnam , as well as in WW2 (Milne Bay) and in Korean War. Brigadier Jack Lawson.