We were a pretty smelly lot after a four-week long operation. No wonder the chopper crews used to hold their breaths when we clambered aboard on fly out day. Staff Sergeant Ron Lichtwark and the LOBs hated to unpack the incoming dhobi bundles from personnel in the field on maintdem day when we were re-supplied with rations, ammunition, fresh uniforms, water and the biggie of the day a huge filled roll and carton of milk, chocolate if you were lucky.

We never had a chance to wash properly and changed our gear every four or so days, under wear were never worn. Shaving was not compulsory until maintdem day and then only if there was water to spare. Whiskered faces and dirt was camouflage paint in disguise. However skin diseases were prevalent due to the lack of washing.

Jokers smell like a thousand years
Mud and sweat from feet to ears
Rotten cheesy smelly socks
Mossie bites like chicken pox

Smelly greens that stink of sweat
Maintdem ain’t been flown in yet
No new gear until next week
By cripes by then we’ll really reek

Rotten water makes you think
Oh, for ice cold beer to drink
Wouldn’t mind a nice big steak
Give these rations a blooming break

Hexies flaming awful fumes
Use PE that rally zooms
Need to cut my blooming hair
But that is really neither here nor there

Really ought to shave my face
Appearance is a damn disgrace
New dry boots would go alright
Think I’ll ask the Sarge tonight

Peter M. Anderson, W3 Coy, 1969-70

Read more about Peter Anderson's Vietnam experience here.

Reference: 

© Peter M. Anderson. Not to be published or reproduced without the permission of the copyright holder.

How to cite this page: 'Appearances Ain't Everything - Poem', URL: http://www.vietnamwar.govt.nz/memory/appearances-aint-everything-poem, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 5-Sep-2013