Anthony W. Pahl


We were getting pretty rowdy after ‘bout a dozen beers or so
But no one seemed to notice; they just didn’t want to know.
All of us were filthy and stank the front bar out.
There were about fifteen of us in that particular shout.

We were in our Air Force Uniforms, but not that you could tell
We looked as if the devil him-self had dragged us up from hell
And if that is how we came across it wasn’t far from wrong
Anybody looking on wouldn’t know where we were from.

We were playing with our medals, the ones from Vietnam
Tossing them around the pub as if they were nothing grand
We really didn’t think they were, after what we’d just been through
But our young hearts were crying and nobody ever knew.

It was October nineteen seventy, four months back in the world.
In Sydney, we had all dressed up but not to catch a girl.
An official guard of honour was what we were sent to do
With rifle, bayonets, uniforms, and, of course, our spit shined shoes.

All was going really well; well we were at least in step
till we wheeled left into Martin Place a bloody sight I can’t forget
Shouts and jeers from longhaired louts with madness in their eyes
I could have bloody damn well swore they were VC in disguise…

… hurling paper bags of shit, rotten eggs, and other crap.
Screaming, “Baby killers! Rapists! Traitors!” Words more base than that.
Red paint in plastic bags with holes, yellow paint poured down our back
together with the piss soaked cloths and white feathers with wet ash

Training just took over, which was just as bloody well
We wanted to charge those bastards and send them off to hell
But we continued marching onwards, eyes front and spines erect
We closed our minds to the awful sound of a nation’s disrespect.

And when the parade was over, they brought the busses in
and took us to a place, a pub, so we’d forget where we had been
The Air Force paid for all the booze from afternoon till morn
And that was more the shame of it; we were not allowed to mourn.