THE RELUCTANT COMMANDO
By Jim Husband BEM OAM
OK, you would like to know the reasons that I was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in the Australia Day Honours?
Frankly, I know only what I’ve read in the papers, and until the investiture, I’m no wiser than you. So rather than bore you with stories of my very ordinary achievements, I’ll take the opportunity to reminisce on my introduction to 2 Commando Company.
I had just finished a rather messy operation at Qhe Son up near Danang in South Vietnam and was looking forward to a spell of sin when my R and C were shattered by the news that on completion of my tour of duty with the Team I was to be posted to 2 Commando Company in Melbourne. Bloody CMF! What have I done to deserve this? Why me? Bloody weekend warriors and cut lunch commandos at that! I whinged, whined and pleaded to no avail.
“That’s it, Husband you are posted to the CMF whether you consider your undoubted talents wasted or not, now piss off and let’s get on with the war”
Home, and the news that the government were to send an Infantry Battalion to Vietnam. I saw this as a way out, so I’m on the blower in a flash offering my services, the reply?
“That’s it, Husband, you are posted to the CMF whether you like it or not, now piss off and get on with it”
I finally headed down to Melbourne and struck the first problem… I can’t find the unit. Eventually, I discover it in a sort of laneway bounded by a tennis court over the street, a boy’s school on the other side and the house of a very irate lady (I learnt this later) on one end. I can’t remember what was on the other end as it was very difficult to get past the OR’s Boozer. I met the OC, Major Geoff Cohen and learnt that I can stay on the premises instead of travelling every day to Watsonia, what a relief. The staff quarters were shared with other blokes. Dick Kluczniak was one of them. Then in to see the Q bloke, Peter Elkins, to be issued with the coveted parajacket (didn’t matter that I wasn’t qualified) and a green beret. A green beret! No way am I going to part with my Herbert Johnson for a CMF wanker green beret. It turns out that my refusal to wear the beret stood me in good stead with the troops as it was noted on some occasions that ARA staff wore the beret as a result of their posting.
Later, when I had successfully completed all the tests (with no fudging) I was very proud to wear the beret.
What characters there were at McWhae Avenue – Ted Malone, who wanted to fight me the first parade night; Barry Rust and his dinky toy red car that nearly cost him his life; Eddie and Tom Nicholas; the Hughes brothers; Yogi Bear; Don Bergman; Kevin Mitchell, ( who collided with the milk cart on a couple of occasions, which so frightened the milko that it was said he used to gallop his horse past the depot on delivery nights); Dave Waterston, Karl Kalitz, Barry Smith, Peter Tobin. ( Pete used to look at you with tape measure eyes … I often used to wonder what he carried under the tray cover of his grey ute). Then there was Fat Fingers Hinde ( I’ll never lend him a car again ); Ian Storey, Paul Butler ( a policeman who got sprung for moonlighting when it was a no-no) and of course many, many others of whom I have fond and not so fond memories.
Remember the first “Jungle Warfare” exercise I attended at Greenwood (sic) State Forest. It was snowing and sleeting as is typical in that part of the deep jungle of Victoria. I, a gung ho, highly trained jungle fighter was set to show them a thing or two. I had all my Vietnam gear with me – fuel stove, poncho liner, patrol boots, the lot. While “they” were stuffing around with their hexamine tablets making a brew, I casually lit up the latest thing in stoves, which promptly blew up and burnt down my effing hutchie and destroyed most of my gear. I can still remember ” their ” silent mirth. Anyway I evened up things a little when we pinched the enemy’s barbed wire encircling their position. All in all, I experienced a great start to a fairly long association with the Company, which benefited me in a great number of ways, and when, at the last Annual Dinner, I carked in a chair in front of the heater in the Snake Pit, I knew I was home. Except that in my day, we would never have run out of beer. oOo
DZ NAMED IN HONOUR OF FORMER RSM
Members of the PTS took to the skies recently to celebrate the opening of the unit’s first exclusive training drop zone. Following static-line and free-fall descents onto the virgin soil CO PTS, Lt-Col Steve Hull, declared Husband DZ open. The DZ was named in honour of former PTS RSM WOI Jim Husband OAM. “Jim was informed of the naming recently in Darwin after watching a Red Beret display,” Lt- Col Hull said. Jim, a member of 2 Commando Association, was a highly regarded ARA Warrant Officer staff member at 2 Cdo in the 1960s.
Courtesy Army newspaper and Bob Osborne.
Kind Regards Keith Gavan