'I went with no regret': Vietnam Veteran relives war years
VIETNAM veteran, Don Davey was only 22 when he went to Vietnam to fight for his country.
It was 1970 and he left behind his wife and young family.
"Even though I was married, I went with no regret,” he said.
Don Davey is the president of the Kingaroy-Memerambi RSL Sub Branch and president Wide Bay Burnett RSL district.
Along with thousands of other brave young men, Mr Davey recalls his time at war and the unspoken constant reminder that their young lives may end at any moment.
"You accepted that it was a possibility,” he said.
"It was not an expectation to die, but you always knew that was a possibility.”
Mr Davey said as young soldiers, they were confident they had the skills to handle themselves in different situations.
"I was prepared. You joined up to be a soldier and that is what a soldier does.”
"But at that age, we considered ourselves bullet proof.”
Mr Davey remembers seeing his mates tragically shot and killed right in front of him.
"If you were unlucky enough to wear it, then you were unlucky,” he said.
"That's the way we viewed it. That's what we were there for.
"One was hit within a few metres of you and you'd think, 'it could've been me'.”
While he had mixed memories from his time at war, Mr Davey tries to dwell on the positive things.
"A lot of the memories are of the people you miss who you were close to,” Mr Davey said.
"The reality is you have to get on with living.”
He has seen things so malicious, they should never be witnessed by humans.
And upon returning home to Australia, many soldiers struggled to adjust back to life away from the war fields.
Mr Davey believes he is one of the lucky ones.
"I didn't consider that it was hard, because I was married before I went so I came back to the wife and family,” he said.
"It was certainly harder for some.
"A lot of them found it very difficult to assimilate.”
And the less than ideal public reception our veterans received when they returned home from Vietnam made re-adjusting that much more challenging.
"We did our marches and people threw s*** and blood and all sorts of crap at us,” he said.
"According to them, we were baby killers and all this nonsense of attacking peaceful people.”
"A lot of soldiers found it very hard.”
But according to Mr Davey, these young men were just doing their jobs.
"They were just doing what they were told,” he said.
"They were told to go to war and they went to war.”
Mr Davey said Anzac Day had always been that day for the nation to remember what the veterans did to keep our country free.
"To me, it is that day the nation has a chance to join in and formally recognise all of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
He said Anzac Day was a chance to remember all those who had in some way proudly served their country.
"Not just Gallipoli, but every war. Many people didn't go away but they still served,” Mr Davey said.
"Many people were prepared to go and do what they had to for their country.”
As president of the Kingaroy-Memerambi RSL Sub Branch, Mr Davey had a big day overseeing Anzac Day proceedings, but was looking forward to putting his feet up in the afternoon.
"At around 3pm when the service is finished, I'll be able to sit down and start to relax,” he said.
"I'll meet up with some old friends who I haven't seen for 12 months.”
As far as the Vietnam veteran is concerned, our schools have done a great job in keeping the next generation informed of the significant role our soldiers played defending our country.
"I have been absolutely delighted with the participation of our younger students,” he said.
"It has been tremendous.”
In the lead up to Anzac Day, Mr Davey had a timely reminder for the future leaders of Australia.
"I would encourage every young person to gain an understanding of what went before them so they can appreciate what they have.
"Because as we are finding out, it isn't the case in all countries.”