Anthony W. Pahl


This story’s of two young Aussies,
both in their late teens,
who went to war in Vietnam
and saw amazing scenes.

Both youths were nicknamed Blue
because of their red hair.
This story relates an experience
that both of them once shared.

One Blue was in the Army,
the other in the RAAF.
They’d volunteered for service;
they were both young and brash.

The younger Blue was infantry
and was trained in ground warfare.
He was quick and real observant
and at tracking had flair.

As lead scout he excelled – the best
and always led with care.
He scoured the jungle twilight
his searching eyes always aware.

On one patrol he felt that things
were not exactly right.
A churning feeling in his gut
told him they’d have to fight.

So he led with greater care
but there was nothing he could see
till suddenly the jungle lit
just like a Christmas tree.

He felt a burning pain
all down his left hand side.
He fell down on the jungle track
with no place he could hide.

He heard the shout of “Contact!”
He heard the yells of mates.
He wondered at the agony.
He wondered at his fate.

When the other older Blue
arrived in Vietnam
he decided that the jungle
was no fit place for man.

He applied for chopper duties
He reckoned he could fly above.
As a chopper gunner he excelled
It was a job he came to love.

One day his chopper got a call;
a “Dust-off” was required.
A patrol had sprung an ambush
and was pinned down under fire.

By the time his chopper got there
the fight had died right down.
But still the chopper had to hover
above the jungle crown.

“Throw smoke.” “Smoke thrown!” “Blue smoke?” “Correct!”
So the litter was winched down
on a hundred feet of cable
through the jungle to the ground.

Blue held onto the winch control
heart tight in his chest.
The cable jerked a coupl’a times
the signal to raise the litter fast.

Bullets started buzzing all around
and thumped into the chopper skin.
The litter was only half way up.
Was there time to winch it in?

Blue’s finger touched the button
He thought to cut the wire.
Lose one bloke hanging down below
or risk the crew with a funeral pyre?

“Ascend! Ascend! Straight up! Don’t think!”
Blue yelled into the mike.
“We’ll have to risk him through the trees.
Break! Break to the right!”

The chopper rose but tilted right;
the litter had caught a snag.
“Move left! Move left! We’ll free him yet.
Not another bloody body bag!”

The chopper jerked – the litter freed.
Blue winched it all the way.
“He’s in! He’s safe; let’s get him to
the hospital at Vung Tau bay.”

Blue took a breath deep in his chest
and sighed with huge relief.
He turned his eyes to look upon
the bloke who’d come to grief.

Tears fell down from both their cheeks
as they stared at one another.
“Made it!” he sighed as they both cried.
Blue had saved his younger brother.

Author’s Note: This poem is NOT factual; it is an allegory of the horrors that the Vietnam War inflicted and still inflicts on all warriors and families of warriors.

However, the poem is dedicated to my younger brother Alan, younger by 10½ months – we were both born in 1950. Alan and I were both volunteers in the Royal Australian Air Force and trained as Airfield Defence Guards. We served together in Vung Tau, SVN at the same time (I was sent to Vietnam in June 1969 and Alan arrived in February 1970) and I became a helicopter gunner whereas Alan elected to remain in his primary job as that of an Air Force Soldier.