During the battle at Long Tan I was busily trying to get myself below ground level by trying to dig a hole lying down. It was amazing what you can achieve when you are being shot at. My attention was taken by a man 'standing' beside me, and he was asking me how I was doing! It was a member of B Company HQ. I am not sure who he was, but I suspect that it was either the CSM or the company O/C.

The effect of his presence, and the fact that he was showing to me that he was totally unconcerned about his personal safety was electric. I suddenly did not feel so concerned for my own safety any more. Here he was wandering about upright, with bullets hitting the rubber trees at above waist height.

I did not see him again that evening, but in the morning when we began to recover men and equipment, what he did really sunk in and made me feel so embarrassed for my concern for my own safety. That's leadership!

In the recovery stage the next day, I didn't feel anything for the Viet Cong we recovered and buried, but I felt a sense of great sadness for the Australians we recovered. I thought about what they must have been feeling when they were being overrun. It's funny, but in action you don't really feel fear, you do what you are trained to do without really thinking about it. It's after the action, when you have time to think about it all that you begin to shake a bit.

Its then you see the value of the persistent training you received, and understand when the training NCO's insisted that you do it over and over again. I was so grateful for that.

Reference: 

Wayne Robson

How to cite this page: 'Leadership - Wayne Robson', URL: http://www.vietnamwar.govt.nz/memory/leadership, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 20-Aug-2013

Comments

Thank you for your honesty. I had to smile at the image created in my mind. I'm inclined to think the man standing beside you was more a fool than a brave man and belongs in WW1 rather than in today's wars.

Long Tan was before my time in Vietnam and I tend to honour the soldiers on both sides. This is where the rubber meets the road for a soldier and a civilian has no idea of what an experience like this does to those involved.

Thank you for sharing.

Dennis Griffin V2